Netanyahu to ask Peres for 2 week extension for additional coalition talks

PM’s office schedules meeting with President Peres giving a clear message that the coalition will not be formed in the upcoming days.

Bayit Yehudi calls coalition deal with Tzipi Livni as a ‘traffic accident’.


Coalition talks will not end by their deadline on Saturday night, when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu plans to meet with President Shimon Peres to ask for a two-week extension to form a government.

PM Binyamin Netanyahu accepts President Peres' invitation to form next government, February 2, 2013.

PM Binyamin Netanyahu accepts President Peres’ invitation to form next government, February 2, 2013. – Photo: Koby Gideon/GPO

Netanyahu’s office scheduled the meeting with Peres on Wednesday, a clear indicator that the coalition will not be finalized in the coming days, despite progress in talks with the Bayit Yehudi and negotiations with Yesh Atid planned for Thursday.

According to Basic Law: The Government, if the prime minister does not form a government on time, he may request that the president give him an extension. The president is allowed to decide whether or not to give the extension and how long it will be, up to two weeks.

Peres is expected to give Netanyahu the full extension permitted by law, which will give him until March 16 to form a coalition.

However, according to a new legal opinion by Prime Minister’s Office attorneys, Netanyahu only has to tell Peres he can form a government by March 16, but does not actually need to present it until ministers are sworn in a week later, Channel 2 reported.

Earlier Wednesday, the Bayit Yehudi demanded Likud Beytenu change its coalition agreement with the Tzipi Livni Party, in the fourth meeting this week between the parties that ended without any significant progress.

“The deal is a traffic accident,” MK Uri Ariel, second on the Bayit Yehudi list and the party’s chief negotiator, said of the coalition agreement with Livni, which would make her Justice Minister and responsible for negotiations with the Palestinians.

The party did not specify what they would like to change in the agreement with Livni, saying Likud Beytenu should tell them what they can offer, but they are not asking for Livni to be pushed out of the coalition.

Yesh Atid, which is coordinated with the Bayit Yehudi in coalition talks, plans to make similar demands to change the deal with Livni in negotiations that are set to continue on Thursday afternoon. Yesh Atid opposes the fact that Livni’s party received two ministries, which means one for every three MKs, because the former party thinks the government should have no more than 18 ministers.

Likud Beytenu did not officially offer Ariel the Housing Ministry in talks on Tuesday, despite saying it would Monday night, and the parties spoke about issues important to the Bayit Yehudi, rather than ministries.

The two parties discussed haredi enlistment, but did not make significant progress. A Bayit Yehudi source said that Likud Beytenu seemed less willing to accept their terms than they were in previous meetings, but still open to negotiations.

A source close to the negotiations explained that the Bayit Yehudi wants to come to agreements on economic and budgetary issues before dealing with portfolios.

Some of the economic issues the Bayit Yehudi plans to raise in a meeting with Likud Beytenu and National Economic Council chairman Eugene Kandel after press time Wednesday include making Sundays vacation days, and a law breaking market concentration.

Earlier this month, Kandel presented a plan for equality in the burden of national service that does not include quotas for the number of yeshiva students who can be exempt from enlisting in the IDF or civilian service.

Kandel also led a committee in the Prime Minister’s Office in 2011-2012 that was tasked with examining the possibility of a five-day workweek in Israel.

Also Wednesday, Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich reiterated that she would not join the coalition, despite continued reports that Likud Beytenu offered her party the Finance, Industry, Trade and Labor and Welfare portfolios.

Yacimovich explained that there is a “massive gap” between the parties’ ideologies, and that Netanyahu would have to totally change his positions for Labor to join his coalition. She added that she is skeptical that scenario would ever take place.

The Labor leader also accused the prime minister of “modeling” a diplomatic process, saying he would not truly seek peace.

However, if Netanyahu presents a peace initiative to the Palestinians, Yacimovich said her party would support it from the opposition, and would consider joining the coalition if necessary to push through a peace agreement.


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