Bennett, Sa’ar hold extensive talks on forming government with Lapid

Yamina leader Naftali Bennett and New Hope chief Gideon Sa’ar have been holding extensive talks at the Knesset today on forming a government led by Bennett and Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid, according to Hebrew media reports.

The two are seeking to wrap up the talks by the start of next week, the Kan public broadcaster reports, while Channel 13 news says Lapid and Bennett have agreed to finalize all ministerial appointments by Saturday evening.

However, the network says it is unclear if Bennett and Lapid will meet the deadline, citing significant gaps that still exist between the sides on expectations, the allocation of ministries and what issues there needs to be consensus on.

An unnamed source tells the Walla news site that Bennett and Sa’ar have been discussing key issues in the next government and also “aligning the right-wing demands” they’ll make of Lapid.

The talks come as Prime Minister Netanyahu has six more days to put together a government before his mandate for doing expires.

As part of these efforts, Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked met today with United Torah Judaism MK Meir Porush to see if the ultra-Orthodox party will back or abstain on a vote of confidence in a prospective Bennett-Lapid government, Walla reports.

Meir told her UTJ would not do so if Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman — a fierce opponent of the Haredi parties — becomes finance minister, but “there may be something to discuss” if someone else is tapped for the post, the report adds.

According to the news site, Shaked has been seeking in recent weeks to get the ultra-Orthodox to vote in favor or abstain on a Yamina-Yesh Atid coalition, preferring this to a government that is sworn in with the abstention of Arab parties.

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