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February 7, 2013 11:39 am

Netanyahu to Ask Lapid to Join Coalition With Haredim

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Yair Lapid. Photo: Wikipedia

Israeli coalition talks continue apace, with the main focus now on how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempts to square the circle between a centrist party whose main platform is integrating Israel’s ultra-Orthodox sector into the army and workforce, and the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) political parties who are against it.

Amid the tension between Netanyahu and Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid, they will try to bridge the gaps between them and examine the possibility of Yesh Atid entering the coalition, together with the ultra-Orthodox Shas party — an ideal solution according to the prime minister’s associates.

Netanyahu is expected to tell Lapid that he sees the haredi parties as partners in his government and that if Lapid wants to join the government, he will have to make his stance more flexible, particularly on the issue of “sharing the burden” (recruiting haredim into the Israel Defense Forces and into the workforce). According to a source close to the coalition talks, Netanyahu would like to form as broad-based a government as possible — one that includes Lapid, Tzipi Livni and Shaul Mofaz from the Center-Left of the political spectrum, as well as the haredi parties and Habayit Hayehudi from the Right.

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“To advance the issue of ‘sharing the burden,’ we need Lapid in the government. To make progress on peace, we need the support of the haredim,” the source said. “Only a broad-based government that includes all of the streams in Israeli society will allow freedom of action on issues of substance.”

Lapid for his part once again attacked the haredim on Wednesday, saying that “Torah study cannot turn into an excuse for 8-year-old children not to study math and English, for 18-year-olds not to serve their homeland, and for 28-year-olds not to work to support themselves.”

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