Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

As Netanyahu’s Coalition Building Efforts Intensify, Whispers of New Israeli Elections Emerge

February 21, 2013 2:15 pm 6 comments

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Photo by Yossi Zamir/Flash90

It has been more than a month since the Israeli elections and so far all Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has to show for his coalition building efforts is a new justice minister, Tzipi Livni. Add to that the fact that Kadima is supposed to offer its two seats in the coming days and Netanyahu is still 22 seats shy of claiming the slimmest of majorities–61 seats–in the Knesset.

This standstill has initiated whispers of a new election in the country as Netanyahu has only until the middle of March (which includes a standard 14-day extension) to present a stable coalition. Should he fail to do so, either another party will be given a chance to form a government, or new elections will be called.

Associates of Netanyahu told Israel Hayom on Wednesday that he was determined to secure the support of 57 Knesset Members — comprising the members of Likud-Yisrael Beytenu, Hatnuah, Kadima and the ultra-Orthodox parties — before turning to Naftali Bennett and his Habayit Hayehudi party.

But over at Habayit Hayehudi, party members stressed that the party’s alliance with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party was intact and Netanyahu would not be able divide it.  Bennett and Lapid are refusing to enter the coalition unless Netanyahu agrees to their joint demand that the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community be stripped of its exemption from serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). They warned that if Habayit Hayehudi did not enter the coalition new elections might have to be called.

But Shas, the major Ultra-Orthodox party, is opposed to this. Wednesday, Eli Yishai, who leads the party, said he believed Shas would sign a coalition agreement next week or the following week. “Progress is being made, but we are still far from finalizing everything; this includes the military draft issue and budgetary matters.”

As Lapid has made it known that he intends to be prime minister in the near future, Netanyahu is said to be pulling farther away from the idea of having him in the government. This is another reason the prime minister is intent on prying Bennett from Lapid’s grip. Likud party members have already gone public with their calls for Bennett to join with Netanyahu, with MK Danny Danon  urging him Thursday to join Netanyahu’s coalition, saying,  “I call on Naftali Bennett to stick to the values “‹”‹of the right and the national camp and to keep his promise to his voters to join the government led by Benjamin Netanyahu.”

Bennett, who spoke at a gathering of the National Religious Party Convention (part of the party apparatus that governs Habayit Hayehudi) raised the possibility that his party would join the opposition.

“We want to help Netanyahu and lend a hand; we understand the complexities in running the most complex country in the world,” Israel Hayom quoted him as saying. “For years, the Likud and the national-religious camp had a natural partnership. During the last campaign we were brutally assaulted and as a result this bond has become somewhat looser. But it is not too late to mend fences. They wanted to have us assume, once again, the role of a non-commissioned army chaplain, but we are no longer in that position. We are going to have a leadership position, or else we will not participate.”

Bennett also said, “The path the government embarks on will ultimately determine whether it would tackle the actual problems facing Israel. We can be the most the reliable and dedicated partner inside the coalition, but if we stay out, that would not be the end of the world. I call on the prime minister: seize the moment.”

Bennett attacked Netanyahu’s partnership with Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni: “Are we going to let a person who has already declared she would divide Jerusalem and give up Ariel run the peace process? The makeup of this government will decide whether this government is a government of opportunity with renewed strengths or a government of missed opportunities. The ball is now in Netanyahu’s court.”

In response, Hatnuah issued a statement saying, “Livni has never made concessions on Ariel or discussed the division of Jerusalem during negotiations; rather, she defended Israel’s national interests.”

Bennett also went after the ultra-Orthodox issue. “One of the windows that is being closed is the window for reaching a real solution that would integrate the ultra-Orthodox in Israeli society,” he said. “Some call that ‘an equal sharing of the burden,’ but I would prefer to call it ‘letting the haredim get out of the cage they are trapped in.’ Historical circumstances have condemned them to a life of poverty through no fault of their own. This has not happened in other haredi communities around the world; it only happened in Israel,” he said.


  • Esther Sarah Evans

    From the comments here up to now it is obvious that the Chareidi block has to do something to educate the masses on the nature of their role – the importance of the Yeshivot, the importance of Torah learning (also in assuring peace) and the fact that although men of Torah also fought, there was always a learning presence, a large body of men learning , teaching and practising Torah. Furthermore, given real enlightenment – Tshuva and consistent practice of Gmelut Chasdim, so that we really become a light to the nations – HASHEM will fight our battles for us, and the whole IDF, IAF etc. can spend their time learning Torah! Think of it. Certainly striving for that beats gum beating and Lashon hara against Chareidim.

    • Jerry Hersch

      “and the fact that although men of Torah also fought, there was always a learning presence, a large body of men learning , teaching and practising Torah”

      A misconception-We were historically an agrarian smalltown people..having the luxury of many who could devote their time to FULLtime Torah study was a luxury.That could only occur with urbanization and a critical mass population density.
      That occured in the middle ages with forced or voluntary ghettoization…and the lack of economic opportunity within that confinement.
      And yes there has always been a body of men learning and teaching Torah..developing a myriad of Talmuds..but for the most part this was an evening…offseason activity….for they were need to put sustenance on the table.
      Sometimes perspectives get lost when we look back from a highly density urban-suburban environment.Most Jewish communities historically consisted of only a few thousand…often a few hundred souls.
      It was not until probably the 1500s that critical mass populations were staring to be reached that would allow even a few from the community the ‘luxury’ of fulltime study…and those only from families that could spare them from gainful employment.
      For the next 300 years- til the 1800s the system developed- as populations grew..economic absorbtion lessened..and the workings of the industrial revolution started to penetrate the ghetto walls.

  • What a joke! They need to overhaul their chaotic system, because it doesn’t work!

  • As a Jew, I think it is disgraceful that the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community is exempt from serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
    The whole country pays for them to pray – for what? Certainly not peace!!!
    If they don’t want to serve and prefer to sponge off the rest of the country, let them go live somewhere else – preferably far away from Israel

  • Mladen Andrijasevic

    Is this for real? A possibility that Yair Lapid will be in charge of the country facing the undeterred nuclear armed Twelvers looking to bring the Mahdi out of “occultation”? Perhaps people who voted for “other issues” assuming that Netanyahu would take care of security should wake up and realize Iran is our priority #1

    Israeli election results – the price of ignorance – instability while facing Iran at a crucial time

  • Don’t know what real ervice many of the Haredi youth would be in the military…shielded from “real life”,a group of people largely misfit for modern society..under the thumb of near demi-god rabbis who offer a protective shield from life and obligations..obligationn to the nation many of them sponge off.
    Freeing of Haredi youth means weaning them from the totally controlling rabbi gurus.It means retraining on how to fit into society..and accepting obligations. Obligations that were borne by almost every Jewish biblical leader- to defend and protect.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.

Current day month ye@r *


  • Arts and Culture Features Jerry Seinfeld to Make Comedy Debut in Israel

    Jerry Seinfeld to Make Comedy Debut in Israel – Famed Jewish-American comedian and actor Jerry Seinfeld is slated to make his comedic debut in Israel later this year. Seinfeld, who was born in Brooklyn to Jewish parents from the Ukraine and Syria, will perform in Tel Aviv’s Mitvtachim Menorah Arena on Dec. 19 as part of a world tour. The comedian is most known for his enormously popular NBC sitcom Seinfeld, which ran from 1989-1998 and is widely considered one of the greatest TV series of all time. […]

    Read more →
  • Features Food American Kids Taste Israeli Food, Offer Tidbits About the Country (VIDEO)

    American Kids Taste Israeli Food, Offer Tidbits About the Country (VIDEO)

    A new video circulating online shows eight American children reacting — mostly positively — to their first taste of Israeli eggplant salad/dip, known in Hebrew as “salat hatzilim” and in other parts of the Levant as baba ganoush. The clip, by, features U.S. youngsters given a plate with schnitzel, slices of pita, hummus and baba ganoush. “If someone had a name like that, they’d be so sad,” one boy said, mispronouncing it as “ba-ga-doosh.” A few of the kids were able to identify correctly the elements on the plate […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Pioneers/Philanthropists ‘Start-Up Nation’ Israel to Host Forbes Magazine Young Entrepreneurs Summit

    ‘Start-Up Nation’ Israel to Host Forbes Magazine Young Entrepreneurs Summit – Forbes magazine announced Tuesday that it will host its Under 30 EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) Summit in Israel for the first time in April 2016. The conference is expected to bring together some 600 young entrepreneurs, with 200 from Europe, 200 from the U.S., and 200 from Israel. The summit has been hosted in Philadelphia for the past two years. It will include presentations, speeches, a pitch competition, and cultural immersion opportunities in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Beliefs and concepts What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David?

    What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David? –  “What’s that huge white bridal dress floating over the Tower of David?” That’s what visitors to Jerusalem’s Old City asked last week. The wedding gown, created by leading Israeli artist Motti Mizrachi, is part of the 2nd Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art, an event that blew into town as the Sukkot holiday got underway. Mizrachi, who lives and works in Tel Aviv, created the dress that floats majestically over the Tower of David, the main exhibition site […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    Israel is a holiday destination on many travelers’ bucket lists. No matter the style of holiday you are after, Israel has the answer. Whether you prefer to relax by the beach, hike up mountains in the desert, visit religious and historical sites, eat your way through the country or just enjoy some retail therapy, your journey through Israel will be one to remember. While there are obviously so many things to see and do, here is a list of 10 of […]

    Read more →
  • Pioneers/Philanthropists US & Canada Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO

    Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO – Jewish American fashion mogul Ralph Lauren announced his plan to step down as chief executive officer of the renowned fashion brand. The head of Gap Inc’s Old Navy brand will take over the position. The 75-year-old Lauren, who founded Ralph Lauren Corp. in 1967, will continue to serve as executive chairman and will continue leading the fashion house’s design team, according to a statement by the company. After the announcement, Ralph Lauren shares rose 3.79 percent while Gap shares […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Sports US & Canada Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish boxer Dustin Fleischer, who said his quest is to become the first world champion descended from a Holocaust survivor, stayed unbeaten with a first-round knockout. Fleischer, nicknamed “The White Tiger,” moved to 4-0 with the defeat of Ira Frank on Saturday night in Beach Haven, New Jersey, near his home, he reported after the fight on his Facebook page. The 26-year-old welterweight has won all his bouts by knockout. Read full story at JTA.

    Read more →
  • Featured Israel Pioneers/Philanthropists Meet Israel’s Santa Claus, the Trustee Tasked With Handing Out Leona Helmsley’s Billions (INTERVIEW)

    Meet Israel’s Santa Claus, the Trustee Tasked With Handing Out Leona Helmsley’s Billions (INTERVIEW)

    Renowned New York attorney Sandor (Sandy) Frankel, one of four trustees of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, was in Israel earlier this month to look at additional philanthropic options and to observe the progress of those endeavors already funded – to the tune of multi-millions. Frankel, who recently joined the prestigious Park Avenue law firm Otterbourg P.C., met with Israeli politicians and other bigwigs to get a sense from them about which projects in the country […]

    Read more →