Netanyahu: Still working to expand coalition


(JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he plans to continue recruiting political parties for his governing coalition, which currently holds the minimum required for a majority.

Netanyahu said Monday at a meeting of his Likud Party that he would work to build the “widest government we can achieve,” but did not name which parties he was courting, the Times of Israel reported.

However, leaders of several parties, including Zionist Union and Yisrael Beiteinu, responded to his remarks by emphasizing that they will not join the government, which consists of four parties in addition to Likud: Jewish Home, Kulanu, United Torah Judaism and Shas.

The coalition now has 61 seats in the 120-member Knesset.

Avigdor Liberman, who leads Yisrael Beiteinu and was foreign minister in Netanyahu’s last government, said at a meeting of his party that he had rejected recent invitations from Netanyahu to join the coalition, including an offer to be defense minister. Liberman also accused Netanyahu of having “cheated” voters, according to the Times of Israel.

Yisrael Beiteinu, a far-right party, had been widely expected to join the coalition until last week, when Liberman announced otherwise, saying he objected to deals that Netanyahu had made with other parties in the coalition.

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