With Two Weeks Left, Hard Going in Coalition Talks

MK Yariv Levin (Likud), who is a member of Likud's coalition negotiation team, told Arutz Sheva Sunday that coalition talks are facing difficulties, and the gaps between the positions of the six parties involved are still large.

Instead of showing flexibility, he explained, the potential partners are becoming entrenched in their positions, making completion of the negotiations impossible.

After the Pesach holiday break in negotiations, there are two more weeks left to the 28-day period that President Reuven Rivlin gave Likud to establish a governing coalition after its election victory. If this period ends without success, another 14-day extension will be granted.

"There are still meaningful gaps and it is not certain that we will be able to bridge over them in a matter of days," Levin told Arutz Sheva. Because the negotiations involve many parties, "there are matters that need to ironed out, not only in the relations between us and each party, but also matters that are in dispute between the parties themselves, both matters of portfolios and authority, and more substantial matters, so it is hard to seal a deal with one party before the others, since this would present parties with facts on the ground and make it difficult to finalize negotiations with them."

If all else fails, he added, Likud will have to sign deals with some of the parties before the others, thus forcing the remaining parties to accept the initial deals as a fait accompli and accommodate themselves to reality. Levin rejected accusations that Likud was stalling in the negotiations and stressed that the preferred coalition is, without a doubt, a 67-member coalition with the nationalist and religious parties.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman suggested Sunday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is stalling talks in order to eventually form a unity government between his Likud party and Labor.

During an interview with Reshet Bet, the Yisrael Beytenu chair alleged that representatives from his party had not yet discussed possible portfolios with Likud and that his entrance into Netanyahu's government was not dependent on one ministry or another.

"The government's basic policies will be the deciding factor. These include the elimination of the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip and the cancellation of VAT on basic goods," Liberman stressed.

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