Israeli President Shimon Peres granted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a two-week extension on Saturday after the latter failed to assemble a coalition in the initially allotted four-week time frame, Israel Hayom reported. Netanyahu blamed political “boycotts” for his failure to complete the task.
By law, the Israeli president cannot allow the prime minister any additional time, beyond these two weeks, to assemble the coalition. If the coalition is not complete within the next two weeks, new elections will likely be called.
During the meeting between Peres and Netanyahu at the president’s office in Jerusalem on Saturday, the prime minister briefed the president on the latest developments in the ongoing coalition talks.
“The main reason I have been unable to complete putting a coalition together until now is because of boycotts,” the prime minister told the president, referring to the alliance between Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid and Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett. Lapid’s 19-seat party will not join the coalition unless the prime minister forgoes his traditional partnership with the ultra-Orthodox parties, and Bennett’s 12-seat party will not join the coalition without Lapid, exerting enormous pressure on the prime minister to exclude the haredim (ultra-Orthodox).
“A certain population within the State of Israel is being boycotted, and that goes against my principles,” Netanyahu told the president. “I am doing everything in my power to unite the people [of Israel]. I think that as Jews we have suffered enough boycotts. We know that Israel is often boycotted in international forums, and in such cases we justifiably object.”