Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to form a coalition government with the Yesh Atid and Jewish Home parties, the Israel daily Maariv reported Thursday.
The report said that Netanyahu plans to inform Israel’s President, Shimon Peres, as early as this weekend that he will extend an offer to form a new government with the two parties. Netanyahu is expected to meet with Peres at the latter’s Jerusalem residence this weekend to ask for a 14-day extension to form a new government.
Although Netanyahu was hoping to include the ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, he was reportedly swayed by aides to forgo their inclusion as it appeared unlikely he would be able to break the alliance Jewish Home and Yesh Atid has made. The two parties said they would not join the government without the other. Yair Lapid, leader of Yesh Atid, has already said that he would not be part of any government that included the ultra-Orthodox parties.
But Jewish Home, itself a far-right party, stressed that the alliance between the two parties will expire once each joins the government and that after the parties’ ministers are sworn in, the factions would go their separate ways and neither would be bound by the other.
This has led to reports that Netanyahu hopes to add the ultra-Orthodox parties at a later point. On Wednesday, Channel 2 reported that Netanyahu associates had informed Shas and United Torah Judaism that they might have to stay out of the government until a new national service bill and the 2013 state budget is passed. Sources at the Prime Minister’s Office and the Likud negotiating team denied the report.
Ultra-Orthodox lawmakers rejected such a two-phased approach outright on Wednesday. One top Shas official said the party would “serve as a true opposition and would not enter the government in a future date or in any later phase.”
“A haredi-free government would not survive and we would have no interest in entering such a government, we would simply wait for it to topple,” he said, according to Israel Hayom.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai from Shas also said Thursday that the ultra-Orthodox parties could be forced into the opposition.
“I don’t know what the future has in store. The various reports suggest that Lapid and Bennett’s efforts to have Shas out of the government are bearing fruit for now,” he wrote on his Facebook page.