Israeli National Unity Gov’t Held up by Last-Minute Haggling
Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, is poised to announce the formation of a national unity government Wednesday, ending more than two years of political deadlock that resulted in four parliamentary elections, but one remaining issue stands in the way: Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked’s demand for a spot on the Judicial Selection Committee, which chooses Supreme Court justices.
Marathon talks overnight ironed out most remaining issues among the parties set to comprise the new government, including Yesh Atid, Blue and White, Labor, Yamina, Yisrael Beitenu, Meretz, New Hope, and for the first time in Israel’s history, a predominantly Arab party, the United Arab List.
Shaked wants to take a position already promised to Labor head Merav Michaeli on the Judicial Selection Committee. Six Supreme Court justices are due to retire and be replaced by new appointments over the next four years. The committee comprises the justice minister, who in the new government would be New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar, one additional minister, an MK from the coalition, an MK from the opposition, and representatives from the current Supreme Court and the Bar Association.
As a compromise solution, Lapid suggested that Shaked be appointed Israel’s new ambassador in Washington, but she rejected the offer.
Lapid must notify President Reuven Rivlin and Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin by midnight between Wednesday and Thursday that he has succeeded in forming a government. If he misses the deadline, the president will allow any Knesset member to try to form a government. If that fails, the country will head back to the polls for a fifth time.