Negotiations hit an obstacle
Coalition expansion talks ran into a snag on Monday as the finance minister balked at Yisrael Beiteinus demand to increase the states pension payments to immigrants – but only those from former Soviet states.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon protests that any such move would discriminate against other groups, saying behind closed doors that extortion would not work, and that in any case, efforts were being made to help impoverished elderly people rise above the poverty line.
Ministry people are meanwhile working on a plan to increase retirement stipends to all immigrants, not only those hailing from the defunct Soviet realm.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to convene an urgent meeting today to break what Finance Ministry sources call a deadlock.
Everybody knew in advance what our conditions were, said a source in Yisrael Beiteinu on Monday morning. A team from the party, which is led by Avigdor Lieberman, had a meeting scheduled for 10 A.M. Monday morning with the prime minister, the source said, adding, We are coming with honest desire and will make a genuine effort, but progress cannot be achieved without the same from intentions on the other side.
The wrangle with the Finance Ministry has now held up signature on a coalition agreement for the second day. Netanyahu was further busied yesterday with meeting a ministerial delegation to Israel from the Czech Republic.
Yesterday the negotiators said the agreement would, after all, not include Liebermans original demand to stipulate the death penalty against terrorists convicted of murder in civil court, though the defense minister-designate is expected to demand amendment of the military court code, to make imposition of the death penalty by military courts (that try cases of terrorism in the West Bank) easier. According to a source in Likud, that means the death penalty will not be applied to Jews.