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May 15, 2015 4:36 pm

Israel’s Likud and Zionist Union Say Unity Only Possible After Budget is Passed

avatar by David Daoud

Likud and Labor say that unity is possible, but not before the passage of the state budget. PHOTO: Olivier Fitoussi

Despite being at loggerheads, both of Israel’s leading political parties, the ruling Likud and the opposition Zionist Union, haven’t ruled out forming a national unity coalition together, Israeli news portal NRG reported on Friday.

Sources close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Zionist Union Chairman Isaac Herzog signaled however that such a coalition deal was unlikely before the passing of a national budget, according to the report.

Senior officials on both sides explained that “there is an understanding from both sides that we need to downplay the matter of unity at least for the next few months.”

“The next window of opportunity for joining the government will only be after the approval of the budget,” they said.

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Zionist Union MKs noted this week that the party’s entry into Netanyahu’s government before the passage of the budget would be like “shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Likud officials echoed those statements, saying a unity government “will not happen now and not in the coming months” because “there are some major issues that need to be completed in the Knesset first, including approving the biennial budget, before this becomes relevant again.”

Still, Netanyahu reportedly said he was holding the Foreign Ministry portfolio for Herzog, should his party join his coalition.

Last week, Herzog rejected a demand from Zionist Union MK Amir Peretz that the party would never join a Netanyahu-led coalition, not now, not tomorrow, and at no point in the future, NRG reported.

The new governing coalition, with a 61-seat majority, was sworn in on Thursday.

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