Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may attempt to win Knesset approval for a coalition of only 60 members، one short of a majority، or may threaten prospective coalition partners with a resort to another general election، as he battles thus far in vain to finalize his new government with only five days to go، as the Times of Israel said.
Most political analysts on Thursday still assessed that Netanyahu would manage to persuade five other parties to join his Likud in a 65-strong coalition (in the 120-seat Knesset) ahead of Tuesday، May 28’s deadline for doing so. But the key obstacle to that outcome، the participation in the next government of Avigdor Liberman’s five-seat Yisrael Beytenu party، remained immovable as of Thursday night. Liberman is insisting that legislation to increase the number of ultra-Orthodox males serving in the army be passed without any changes، and that it include specific numbers of annual recruits — a position the two ultra-Orthodox parties، Shas and United Torah Judaism، have said they reject. Netanyahu summoned his prospective coalition partners to an urgent meeting at his office in Jerusalem at 8 p.m.، but Liberman stayed away and Likud issued a statement warning that his stubbornness could result in a left-wing government forming instead “Liberman committed to his voters that he will support establishing a right-wing government under Netanyahu،” the statement said. “At the moment he is using all kinds of excuses in order to prevent setting up that government، which may lead to the establishing of a left-wing government.”
On its Facebook page، Yisrael Beytenu wrote “the draft bill was a central topic on the Yisrael Beytenu agenda during the elections and after them. In the coalition negotiations we made it clear time after time that on this subject there will be no concessions.”