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20.12.2014
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Despite personal tensions, Netanyahu, Bennett to meet
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Dan Margalit

Time waits for no man

Benjamin Netanyahu and Yair Lapid will serve in the same government. The arithmetic (31 MKs for Likud-Yisrael Beytenu and 19 MKs for Yesh Atid) provides a coalition base of 50 MKs. Any coalition that excludes Yesh Atid would be so narrow and right-wing that it would be an affront to both the civilized world and the Israeli public.

A coalition with just Likud-Beytenu, Habayit Hayehudi (12 MKs), Shas (11 MKs), and United Torah Judaism (7 MKs) would have a bare minimum parliamentary majority of 61 MKs. Kadima's Shaul Mofaz would not be able to join a narrow government like this in exchange for anything less than the defense portfolio. If Hatnuah's Tzipi Livni joined such a government on her own, she wouldn't be able look at herself in the mirror in the morning.

Until now, Likud-Beytenu has held off on utilizing two potential coalition-building methods. One would be to simply form a coalition of 64 MKs that includes Yesh Atid, Habayit Hayehudi and Kadima. The other, more daring but worth trying, would be drawing up maps of the distribution of ministerial portfolios first and only then starting coalition negotiations, with all the potential coalition partners already knowing which portfolios they would receive if they join the coalition.

With these options off the table, Netanyahu and Lapid, who met on Thursday morning, are left with another path: to not discuss who will be part of the coalition but rather to reach a binding agreement on the issue of the national service burden. The public has already been exposed to a number of plans to make the distribution of the national service burden more equal, including the different proposals put forth by Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon, Yohanan Plesner and Lapid himself. Perhaps more such plans will sprout. But none of these plans will eliminate haredi draft dodging. All of these plans show the faces of the parties that proposed them and any alternative coming from the High Court of Justice could be even tougher.

If I were in Netanyahu's shoes right now, I would give up on trying to convince Lapid to put aside his reservations about the haredi parties being in the coalition. I would also refrain from presenting the haredim as definite coalition partners. Three pairs — Netanyahu and Lapid, coalition negotiators David Shimron (Likud-Beytenu) and Hillel Kovrinsky (Yesh Atid), Likud-Beytenu MK Ya'alon and Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah — should work on reaching a binding agreement on an outline for drafting the haredim, who have turned yeshivas into asylum havens.

Habayit Hayehudi and Shas should be invited to join the coalition only after Likud-Beytenu and Yesh Atid reach a binding agreement on equalizing the distribution of the national service burden. The agreement will be presented to them as a holy writ. If Shas doesn't accept the agreement, Netanyahu should give up on Shas as a coalition partner and not demand that the agreement be reformulated.

Like Cato the Elder on the destruction of Carthage, what has already been said must be compulsively repeated. Time waits for no man.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Yair Lapid will serve in the same government. The arithmetic (31 MKs for Likud-Yisrael Beytenu and 19 MKs for Yesh Atid) provides a coalition base of 50 MKs. Any coalition that excludes Yesh Atid would be so narrow and right-wing that it would be an affront to both the civilized world and the Israeli public.

A coalition with just Likud-Beytenu, Habayit Hayehudi (12 MKs), Shas (11 MKs), and United Torah Judaism (7 MKs) would have a bare minimum parliamentary majority of 61 MKs. Kadima's Shaul Mofaz would not be able to join a narrow government like this in exchange for anything less than the defense portfolio. If Hatnuah's Tzipi Livni joined such a government on her own, she wouldn't be able look at herself in the mirror in the morning.

Until now, Likud-Beytenu has held off on utilizing two potential coalition-building methods. One would be to simply form a coalition of 64 MKs that includes Yesh Atid, Habayit Hayehudi and Kadima. The other, more daring but worth trying, would be drawing up maps of the distribution of ministerial portfolios first and only then starting coalition negotiations, with all the potential coalition partners already knowing which portfolios they would receive if they join the coalition.

With these options off the table, Netanyahu and Lapid, who met on Thursday morning, are left with another path: to not discuss who will be part of the coalition but rather to reach a binding agreement on the issue of the national service burden. The public has already been exposed to a number of plans to make the distribution of the national service burden more equal, including the different proposals put forth by Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon, Yohanan Plesner and Lapid himself. Perhaps more such plans will sprout. But none of these plans will eliminate haredi draft dodging. All of these plans show the faces of the parties that proposed them and any alternative coming from the High Court of Justice could be even tougher.

If I were in Netanyahu's shoes right now, I would give up on trying to convince Lapid to put aside his reservations about the haredi parties being in the coalition. I would also refrain from presenting the haredim as definite coalition partners. Three pairs — Netanyahu and Lapid, coalition negotiators David Shimron (Likud-Beytenu) and Hillel Kovrinsky (Yesh Atid), Likud-Beytenu MK Ya'alon and Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah — should work on reaching a binding agreement on an outline for drafting the haredim, who have turned yeshivas into asylum havens.

Habayit Hayehudi and Shas should be invited to join the coalition only after Likud-Beytenu and Yesh Atid reach a binding agreement on equalizing the distribution of the national service burden. The agreement will be presented to them as a holy writ. If Shas doesn't accept the agreement, Netanyahu should give up on Shas as a coalition partner and not demand that the agreement be reformulated.

Like Cato the Elder on the destruction of Carthage, what has already been said must be compulsively repeated. Time waits for no man.

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