By Ted Belman
I am fascinated by coalition talks this time around.
Lapid doesn’t want Shas and so Netanyahu doesn’t want Lapid. Unfortunately for Netanyahu he is confronted by a pact between Lapid and Bennett in which they are in or out of the government together. They represent 31 mandates against Netanyahu’s 32.
Of course Netanyahu could accede to their request and form a government with a 63 seat majority and leave Shas and everyone else out. He obviously doesn’t want to do this. Such a coalition would work well together. Bennett is against the two state solution but will likely accept Netanyahu’s Bar Ilan formulation simply because nothing will come of it. So far in talks Bennet does not appear to make annexation of Area C a demand. Lapid on the other hand also accepts the formulation, an undivided Jerusalem and building in settlement blocs providing negotiations commence in six months. He is unlikely to leave government if they don’t.
Not much divides them on budget, education and housing. As for shared service, Netanyahu is trying to get them to reach an agreement with Shas which would solve most of his problems.
He has tried to woo Bennett away from the pact offering him 4 portfolios. Bennett rejected the offer saying we we want to talk policy before we talk portfolios.
Apparently Bibi is also wooing Shelly Yacimovitch (Labour 15 seats). He has offered her the Finance Ministry believing that she could live comfortably with Shas and UTJ in the government because they all have similar view on a social agenda. Furthermore such an agenda for her would be more important then fighting for equal sharing of the burden. The hope is that she and Shas and UTJ could be an alternative to Lapid/Bennett. Talk of such an arrangement would be enough to soften up the Lapid demands.
Now Netanyahu keeps repeating that he wants the widest possible coalition. How does that help him? Why does he want this. Essentially, the wider the coalition the less power to execute his own agenda. Does he have an agenda other than to stay in power? Or is bringing the opposition into government intended to silence the opposition.