Progress Reported in Coalition Talks, But Liberman Isn’t In Yet

YERUSHALAYIM -
Yisrael Beytenu chairman, Avigdor Liberman.
(Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

The time for nail-biting isn’t over yet, but on Wednesday night Israeli media were carrying reports of a possible breakthrough in talks between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud and the holdout coalition parners.

“Significant progress” was reported by Channel 12, and a source in Yisrael Beytenu was quoted as saying, “Things have finally started moving.”

Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman has already been on the phone with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and Shin Bet security service director Nadav Argaman, signalling a return to his post of defense minister. And Liberman met with Netanyahu on Wednesday evening for the first time in nearly a week and a half while negotiations

Liberman’s main issues have been the handling of the Palestinians, where he wants to take a tougher line than Netanyahu has been willing to agree to, and the chareidi draft, on neither of which there was yet any specific indication of a climbdown.

“I am not ready for compromise,” Liberman told confidants, according to the Kan public broadcaster. “If my conditions aren’t fully met, I won’t enter the coalition. I want the entire packet, completely, completely. I won’t concede a comma in the conscription bill.”

However, various possibilities are being considered to break the deadlock, including that of passing the current conscription bill as is and changing it later.

Blue and White co-chairman Yair Lapid offered his wise counsel to Liberman on Wednesday: “Don’t give in to [Netanyahu],” he tweeted.

“If I need your help, I will call, not tweet,” Liberman tweeted back to Lapid.