Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Stalemate: 'Lapid Obsessed About Becoming Foreign Minister'

Haredim are out, Bennett is in, but Yair Lapid is not yet satisfied. The leader that railed about Israel's middle class situation and who promised to bring the money back home - to the hardworking Israeli society, is now holding back from signing a coalition deal with the Likud for one particular reason: The Foreign Ministry.

While his partner Naftali Bennett is already eager to join the government, Lapid's Yesh Atid canceled, earlier on Wednesday, the coalition meeting with Likud-Beytenu representatives amid what were initially reported as objections to what it sees as an excessive number of ministers planned for the next government.

The ideological issues that kjep the Haredim from joining the coalion seemed to have been resolved. According to a Channel 10 News report on Tuesday, Netanyahu had agreed that the outline for enlistment of hareidi yeshiva students drafted by Lapid and Bennett would be enacted into law. 

The proposal will impose a quota on the number of yeshiva students who are exempt from army service. However, instead of 400 exemptions as Lapid had previously demanded, the quota will be extended to 1,500 to 2,000 students. In addition, the outline calls for the draft for hareidim to be deferred until the age of 21 at the latest. 

Hence, due to his fear of accepting Likud's offer of serving as Israel's Finance Minister, which is not an easy job, Lapid is now demanding Netanyahu to betray his most loyal partner over the past four years and his number 2, Avigdor Lieberman, and call off the promised he gave of keeping the Foreign ministry position for him as  he returns convicted.

Likud sources on Wednesday afternoon slammed Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid for canceling coalition talks and “obsessing” about becoming foreign minister. The sources spoke soon after Moshe Leon, a top Likud negotiator, told Israel Radio that coalition negotiations between Likud-Beytenu and the Jewish Home and Yesh Atid parties were in their final stages and an agreement could be reached within hours.

The Likud sources told Army Radio, however, that Lapid was “obsessing” about becoming foreign minister, “which isn’t going to happen.”