Clock Ticking on Coalition Talks

With the deadline to form a government looming, Likud representatives feverishly enter the final days of coalition negotiations. 

Likud has so far signed agreements with both the haredi United Torah Judaism and the centrist Kulanu. Talks continue with the Shas, Jewish Home, and Yisrael Beytenu.

In recent days, it seems, each of these three parties are trying to assert pressure on Likud, and vice versa, while also maintaining the appearance of confidence as they present their final demands and ultimatums to the ruling party. 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's main obstacle as of now is finding a solution to the bone of contention between Shas and Jewish Home – the Religious Affairs Ministry. 

While Jewish Home has agreed to compromise and share the ministry, Shas chairman Aryeh Deri refuses to allow a Jewish Home deputy minister and also demands that authority of the rabbinical courts be moved from the Justice Ministry to the Religious Affairs Ministry. 

Jewish Home, meanwhile, threatened that Shas receiving full control of the debated ministry was reason enough to torpedo negotiations with Likud. 

An official close to the coalition talks, most likely from Likud, was quoted Sunday morning in Israel Hayom, postulating on the reasons for Deri's stubbornness, considering a deputy minister cannot make final decisions without the approval of the minister. 

According to the official, "Deri's insistence on not appointing a Jewish Home representative is a tactic designed to squeeze another last-minute portfolio for himself, as compensation for a Religious Affairs Deputy Minister from Jewish Home."

Talks between Likud and Yisrael Beytenu have also seen their fair share of difficulties. The party claimed on Friday that it was headed for the opposition as Netanyahu planned to form a 61-MK government, without it. 

Should he manage to conclude deals by the Wednesday deadline, the Prime Minister is expected to present his new fully-formed government then. 

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/194891

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