Expectations are growing among the two winners of last month’s election that Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid will join the new governing coalition, despite media reports on tensions between Lapid and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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“The election results show us that the public wants Yesh Atid in the coalition,” said a party source over the weekend. But the party, which came in second in the vote, will not compromise on its basic principles, the sources said.
They said the main issue was equal sharing of the burden a reference to getting ultra-Orthodox Israelis to do army service and join the labor force. Yesh Atid sources said Netanyahu was ultimately responsible for deciding the makeup of the next government. Lapid met with Netanyahu on Thursday; the two said in a statement the meeting went very well.
Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also said he thinks Lapid has serious intentions of joining the coalition. Lieberman said that after speaking briefly with Lapid at the Knesset swearing-in ceremony last week, he had the impression Lapid was an “appropriate person for a future coalition. He understands the limits, he understands he needs to be in the coalition. He is much more open than what the media is presenting.”
Lieberman’s comments come after he attacked Lapid harshly at the joint faction meeting of Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu at the beginning of last week. Yesterday, on Channel 2’s “Meet the Press,” Lieberman criticized Lapid again.
“My impression is that he is not conducting negotiations but dictating ultimatums,” said Lieberman. “He is acting like he sees himself as the de facto prime minister, and after a year and a half in the government he believes he will become the prime minister de jure.”
Lieberman made clear yesterday that in his agreement with Netanyahu the Foreign Ministry would not go to Lapid but would remain in Netanyahu’s hands until the end of Lieberman’s corruption trial. Lapid has been offered the Finance Ministry, said Lieberman.
He noted that Lapid “wants to contribute to Israel and asked ‘where’s the money’ throughout the entire election campaign.” He said it’s fair to assume the such a person would “go where the money is the Finance Ministry. I will be happy if Lapid focuses on internal problems whose time has come to be answered.”
Senior Likud officials said last week Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni was close to an agreement with Netanyahu on entering the coalition in return for the post of minister for advancing the peace process. Lieberman said he spoke with Livni over the weekend and did not deny that negotiations were in the cards.
“Livni is a very important actor in politics. I will certainly be happy if she joins the coalition. We haven’t spoken about a specific post,” said Lieberman.
“It’s clear Tzipi will want to be involved in the negotiations with the Palestinians, but she isn’t entering a vacuum. There is someone who led these contacts for the past four years Isaac Molho.”