Netanyahu Trying to Form New Governing Coalition, Officials Say

Yesh Atid members say a Likud official tried to convince them to defect from their party; Netanyahu calls these claims 'lame political spin.'

AFP

Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for an early election, officials within the coalition and the opposition are convinced that the fight to keep the current government together is not yet over.

"I have no doubt that Netanyahu will try until the last possible minute to form an alternative coalition instead of holding an election. Netanyahu has the option to stay in power for another three years without an election, so why would he take the chance of losing the reins?" asked a senior Yesh Atid official.

One of Netanyahu's attempts to create a majority bloc in the Knesset was revealed on Thursday morning, after a Likud official, considered close to one of Netanyahu's confidants in the Knesset, approached Yesh Atid Knesset members and proposed that they defect from their party and join the prime minister's coalition.

According to one of the MKs, "he told us that it would be a shame if we were no logner in the Knesset after the election, and it would be better to join Netanyahu's government and survive politically." It's unclear if the Likud official's remarks are part of a genuine effort to split up the Yesh Atid party. Either way, at this point it does not appear that any MKs have agreed to the proposal.

The Prime Minister's Office denied the claims. "The prime minister isn't trying to split up Yesh Atid. This is just cheap political spin that shows just how the failed Finance Minister Yair Lapid is gripped by panic."

Aside from the possible attempt to split up Yesh Atid, officials within the Knesset estimate that talks are still underway between Netanyahu and the ultra-Orthodox parties, in an attempt to get them to join the coalition in place of Yesh Atid and Hatnuah. Officials within the ultra-Orthodox parties are denying this, however, and Yisrael Beiteinu party chairman Avigdor Lieberman, who has voiced his opposition to the ultra-Orthodox parties in the past, stated that he would not allow a new government to be formed without an election.