Elkin: Likud In No Hurry to Broaden the Coalition

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has formed a new government and Likud negotiating team member MK Ze'ev Elkin spoke openly with Army Radio on Thursday about the process to get there. 

Specifically addressing Likud's hours-long talks with Jewish Home Wednesday night, which concluded in a last-minute deal, Elkin noted that "most of the disputes revolved around portfolios."

Expressing hope for a change in the long drawn-out negotiation process, Elkin asserted that "a party which received 30 mandates [should not be] in dispute with other parties that received a third or a quarter of that. [The ruling party] should not be in a final situation where it is being squeezed left and right."

"However, when I look at the end result, I think it's good for Likud. The political situation is not simple when one of the parties in the bloc decides to leave it at the last moment," Elkin continued, with a reference to Yisrael Beytenu's shocking move on Monday. 

Returning to the deal with Jewish Home, Elkin spoke out about the large concession Likud made in granting the justice portfolio to Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked. 

"The argument was not just on the 'Justice Minister' title, but also on the powers involved, primarily managing the Ministerial Committee on Legislation, which is the central intersection of the coalition, and the ruling party cannot be excluded from it," Elkin explained.

"We eventually reached an understanding, which will enable us to manage the coalition in a reasonable manner," he added. "Ayelet Shaked will be chairwoman of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation, but the Prime Minister will appoint someone from Likud to be beside her, and they will work together, so that Likud will be a full participant in the management of the committee." 

Despite reports that Netanyahu will immediately make an offer to the Zionist Union after his new government is sworn in, Elkin claimed the ruling party was in no hurry to broaden the coalition beyond its current 61 members. 

"A coalition of 61 members can work," Elkin argued, adding though that of course Likud is "interested in a broader coalition."

"I think we'll build the government and conduct discussions with potential partners who could be [part of the coalition]," Elkin continued, but "certainly there were Israeli governments who functioned well with only 61 Knesset members."

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/195113

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