Coalition Talks Continue as Israel Looks to Form New Government
by Zach Pontz
Speculation as to what the next Israeli government will look like continues to be bandied about in Israeli media as there seems to be no clearer picture today than there was a week ago of what the new coalition government will look like.
Israeli daily Maariv reported Monday that Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, which earned the second-most mandates in last Tuesday’s election with 19, is considering joining forces with the Kadima party, which would bring the party’s total number of mandates to 21. Such a merger would place Kadima party Chairman Shaul Mofaz at the forefront of possible candidates for defense minister. Mofaz served in the position from 2002-2006.
Questions as to what role the Jewish Home party and its leader Naftali Bennett will play in the next government also continue to be asked. On Sunday, officials from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party insisted that Bennett is a desired component of the next coalition government, this despite public hostilities between the two leaders.
“Despite the incessant mudslinging, which continues even after the election campaign has ended, Prime Minister Netanyahu plans to form the broadest coalition possible to deal with the internal and external security challenges the State of Israel is facing,” one Likud official said. “Such a broad government will include Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home).”
Sources close to Lapid and Bennett told Ynet that the two are likely to meet in the upcoming days in order to assess the option of coordinating stances towards coalition negotiations.
According to one of the sources, Lapid and Bennett are expected to agree on most issues. “The coordination between them will put the pressure on Netanyahu.”
There have also been reports that Labor party leader Shelly Yachimovich is entertaining the possibility of joining a coalition government headed by Netanyahu, this despite her proclamations shortly after the elections that she would attempt to thwart Netanyahu from forming a government.