Last Minute Negotiations Continue as Israel on Cusp of New Government

Head of the New Hope party Gideon Saar arrives to a negotiation teams meeting to form a unity government at Ramat Gan’s Kfar Hamaccabiah Hotel on Tuesday. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The heads of the parties behind the so-called “change coalition” met Tuesday to finalize an agreement to replace the government of Binyamin Netanyahu, a day before the mandate to do so expires.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, who has until Wednesday midnight to form a government, met in Ramat Gan’s Kfar Hamaccabiah Hotel with Naftali Bennett of Yamina, Avigdor Liberman of Yisrael Beytenu and Gideon Saar of New Hope to finalize the agreement.

Sources said that the terms would be agreed upon by the end of Tuesday and that Lapid would then inform President Reuven Rivlin that he has managed to form a coalition.

The sources said not all matters of contention had been finalized and that negotiations would continue, but a resolution of the outstanding issues was expected.

Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked and MK Ze’ev Elkin from New Hope also participated in the talks, as well as representatives of Ra’am (United Arab List.)

Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party also sent its negotiating team.

A Yamina spokesman said negotiating teams worked all night on their plans for a unity government and made significant progress.

Knesset speaker Yariv Levin (Likud) said he would only decide the timetable for the vote after Lapid visits Rivlin, but Likud sources said Levin would consult with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and they were very likely to decide to postpone the vote until the last day permitted by law in order to put more pressure on Yamina.

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