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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.

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