JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party said it was close to a coalition agreement with the Jewish Home party.
The announcement Tuesday said the parties were nearing agreement on "a wide range of issues," the most contentious being a universal draft that would require haredi Orthodox men to serve in the military.
Netanyahu has until Saturday to form a government. He is permitted by law to ask for a two-week extension, which Israeli President Shimon Peres has said he will grant.
The two parties reportedly have met four times since Sunday to iron out their differences.
Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett has said his party will only enter the government if Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid also enters. Direct talks between Likud and Yesh Atid have not yet been held, Haaretz reported.
Bennett and Netanyahu have personal differences that reportedly began when Bennett left his position as head of Netanyahu’s office in 2008. It is also believed that there is animosity against Bennett on the part of Netanyahu’s wife, Sara.
Last week, the Hatnua party led by Tzipi Livni became the first to sign a coalition deal with Netanyahu. Livni, the former head of Kadima, will serve as justice minister under the deal that brings her six seats into the government.