Netanyahu’s concession to key party could push coalition over the top


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly agreed to concessions that would bring in a key party and allow him to form a new government.

The Israeli media reported Wednesday morning that Netanyahu had agreed to make Naftali Bennett, who heads Jewish Home, either the justice minister or foreign minister as an inducement to join the government with his party’s eight seats.

Bennett reportedly has been holding out on joining the government and has made himself unreachable by phone in the last two days of negotiations.

The addition of Jewish Home would create a government with 61 seats, one more than required to form a coalition.

Netanyahu must inform President Reuven Rivlin by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday that he has formed a government. The Knesset then has one week to schedule a vote to approve the new government. If Netanyahu is unable to form a majority coalition government, Rivlin could chose another party head, likely Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Union, to try to form a government.

The prime minister now has 53 Knesset seats, consisting of his Likud party with 30 seats; the centrist Kulanu Party, 10 seats; the Sephardic Orthodox Shas party,  seven seats; and the haredi Orthodox United Torah Judaism Party, six seats.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, pulled out of coalition talks and joined the opposition. Yisrael Beiteinu ran with Likud on a joint slate in the 2013 national elections.

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