Still no Israeli coalition deal as deadline looms

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 |  Israel Today Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday was still battling to forge a stable, majority coalition for his new government, with just two days remaining to do so.

Should Netanyahu fail to present a coalition by Friday, March 15, President Shimon Peres can select another Knesset party leader to form a government (un unlikely scenario) or announce new elections.

Netanyahu nearly managed to seal a deal with the allied Yesh Atid and Jewish Home parties, which would have given him a commanding majority coalition.

But there are a number of snags that are holding up a final agreement.

First, the centrist Yesh Atid party insists that the new cabinet have no more than 20 ministers and deputy ministers. Israel's cabinets in recent decades had ballooned to nearly 30 ministers, many of which didn't even belong to any particular government ministry.

Netanyahu reluctantly agreed to shrink the size of the cabinet, but has yet to acquiesce to Yesh Atid's demand to control the Education Ministry.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid also still hopes to become Israel's next foreign minister, but Netanyahu remains adamant that position will be reserved for former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is currently the focus of a corruption investigation.

Both Yesh Atid and Jewish Home have signaled that they have no problem going to a new election, as both parties stand to gain even more should that happen.

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