Netanyahu struggles to form coalition as deadline looms

As the Wednesday deadline for forming a new coalition government looms, reports indicate that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not managed to secure coalition agreements with partners, and may be forced to call for new elections.

Netanyahu met with Likud Party negotiation team head Yariv Levin on Saturday night, but no compromise regarding a law including haredi men in the mandatory military draft has been found.

The ultra-Orthodox parties have called on the prime minister to alter the draft law to enable ultra-Orthodox men to avoid draft and continue learning Torah in yeshivas. Yisrael Beitenu Party chairman Avigdor Liberman has said he would not join Netanyahu’s government unless ultra-Orthodox men are subject to the draft.

The United Torah Judaism Party said they would not agree to draft quotas being mentioned in any coalition deal.

Liberman suggested that a compromise could include ultra-Orthodox legislators leaving the Knesset plenum for the vote if and when the haredi draft law was finally approved, “just as they did when it passed its first reading” in the last Knesset.

If the conflicting parties do not agree to a compromise, Netanyahu could assemble a non-majority coalition of just 60 MKs, but it is not likely to last long. Alternatively, Likud could attempt to poach two or three opposition members to join the coalition. If those options fail, President Reuven Rivlin could grant a different Knesset member, including one from the opposition, the opportunity to form a government.

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