Despite reports of progress in the coalition talks on Wednesday night, the picture emerging on Thursday was very different, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called an urgent meeting to try to salvage the crisis.
Earlier, party sources were quoted as saying that Yisrael Beytenu party head Avigdor Liberman “blew up coalition talks” over legislation formalizing draft exemptions for yeshivah students and other matters of religion and state.
“Liberman promised his voters that he would back the formation of a right-wing government led by Netanyahu,” Likud officials said Thursday. “Now he’s using every excuse possible to block the establishment of that very kind of government, making it possible for the establishment of a left-wing government.”
MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) arrived at the meeting, saying that Liberman “is preventing the establishment of a right-wing government.”
Liberman reportedly refused to attend the meeting Netanyahu called for prospective coalition partners at 8:00 p.m.
Yerushalayim Mayor Moshe Lion, who is said to be close to Liberman, was meeting with Deputy Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman (UTJ), to try to find a way out of the impasse.
Pressure has been mounting on the prime minister as the May 29 deadline for forming a government approaches.
Liberman was not Netanyahu’s only headache.
The leader of the Union of Right-Wing Parties, Rabbi Rafi Peretz, informed Netanyahu that his party will not join the coalition unless they are given the justice portfolio. MK Betzalel Smotrich of UWRP insists that prior to the elections he was promised the justice portfolio, and that now Netanyahu wants to appoint Likud MK Yariv Levin instead.
“Without the keys to balancing the judicial system, regulating the towns in Yehudah and Shomron and preserving the values of tradition, it will be a sham government,” party sources said.
Recognizing that the coalition puzzle might not be solvable after all, Netanyahu said at the Thursday night meeting that another round of elections could be unavoidable.
Updated Thursday, May 23, 2019 at 3:03 pm added info