With Just Hours Remaining, Coalition Talks Stall

YERUSHALAYIM -
Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett speaks to Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid, during a special session of the Knesset on Wednesday. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

Negotiators from the change bloc continued talks into Wednesday morning, but have thus far failed to overcome the impasse on a key point of contention between the Yamina and Labor parties.

With opposition leader Yair Lapid’s mandate to form a government set to expire at midnight Wednesday, both Labor and Yamina are continuing to demand representation on the judicial appointments committee.

Labor has demanded that party chairwoman MK Meirav Michaeli receive the position on the committee reserved for a coalition MK, while Yamina has reportedly issued an ultimatum saying that it will torpedo the planned government if MK Ayelet Shaked is not given the spot on the committee.

According to a report by Kan on Wednesday morning, an official involved in the negotiations said that progress was made in talks overnight on all fronts – except regarding the judicial appointments committee.

The source claimed that both Labor and Yesh Atid told Yamina that a deal assuring Michaeli a position on the committee was already signed, and that the two factions were not going to alter the agreement.

In response, the report said, Yamina issued an ultimatum Wednesday morning saying that if Shaked does not receive the spot on the committee, there will be no unity government.

“Shaked needs to decide if she wants Bennett to be prime minister,” the source cited in the report said.

Yamina MK Matan Kahane told Army Radio on Wednesday morning that his party views the judicial committee position as “critical” to Yamina’s agenda, and that his faction won’t budge on the issue.

“The committee is critical for us. We understand that in the government that is going to be formed, not every side can pursue ideological purity. But we need to make sure that the courts won’t go progressive. There are some things that are core issues for us.”

In overnight talks, Yesh Atid finalized its coalition deal with Blue and White, reaching agreements “on the outlines of the government and core issues relating to the strengthening of democracy and Israeli society,” the two parties said in a joint statement Wednesday morning.

That leaves Yamina, New Hope and Ra’am as the only parties yet to finalize agreements with Yesh Atid.