Coalition Talks Begin for What is Presumed to Be Next Netanyahu Government
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu formally began negotiations on Sunday to form the country’s next governing coalition, as negotiators from his Likud party prepared to meet with representatives of Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party. Liberman tweeted on Saturday night that his agenda consisted of three issues: security, immigration and absorption, and religion and state. He added that despite his party’s “desire to join the coalition” and “willingness to be flexible,” it will not concede its “basic principles.” Yisrael Beytenu’s five seats pushed Netanyahu over the 61-seat threshold in the 120 parliament, or Knesset, making the party a kingmaker. However, the secular-nationalist party is already fighting with expected coalition partners Shas and United Torah Judaism, the Knesset’s two ultra-Orthodox parties, over the “Haredi Draft Law,” which seeks widescale military enlistment for ultra-Orthodox men. Contentious legislation on proposed amendments caused the dissolution of the last Knesset. Liberman has been a steadfast advocate of the law, whereas the leaders of Shas and UTJ are wholly opposed to the policy.