Major parties holding coalition talks as 11th hour nears
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Major parties holding coalition talks as 11th hour nears

Likud-Beytenu to meet with Jewish Home Wednesday night and Yesh Atid on Thursday; Peres will grant Netanyahu 14-day extension if needed to form government

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Finance Minister Yair Lapid at the opening session of the 19th Knesset, February 05, 2013 (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Finance Minister Yair Lapid at the opening session of the 19th Knesset, February 05, 2013 (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Officials from the Likud-Beytenu faction are holding separate talks with the Jewish Home and Yesh Atid parties, as time winds down for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to garner enough support to form a new government.

President Shimon Peres is expected to grant Netanyahu an extra 14 days  to put together a coalition, after the initial 28 days granted for the task expire on Saturday night.

Netanyahu has managed to sign a deal only with the Hatnua party, leaving him 24 seats short of the 61 MKs needed for a Knesset majority.

On Wednesday, Likud-Beytenu negotiators met with representatives from Jewish Home. On Thursday they will meet with the Yesh Atid team.

The parties are both seen as possible linchpins in the formation of a new government, and have agreed not to make a coalition deal without the other. However, the two have decided to continue to negotiate separately.

“We have an understanding, but we don’t have an alliance,” a source from Jewish Home said, speaking to The Times of Israel on the condition of anonymity Wednesday afternoon. “There are issues we agree on, and we present a united front, but we hold separate negotiations led by different people.”

Should Netanyahu fail to form a coalition by mid-March — deemed unlikely, but not impossible — the president could ask another politician to form a government or Israel could head to new elections.

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