Netanyahu and Smotrich plan meet to solve coalition impasse

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu will sit down with Religious Zionism head Bezalel Smotrich this evening as the two attempt to put contentious coalition negotiations to bed, the Ynet news site reports.

Smotrich tells a educational conference that he is completely sure that “with God’s help, a truly right-wing government will be created in the coming days,” according to a statement from his spokesperson.

The report of renewed talks come after Netanyahu managed to nail down an agreement with Smotrich’s running mate, Itamar Ben Gvir of the Otzma Yehudit party, on Friday.

Coalition negotiations between Likud and allied right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties have dragged on since Netanyahu was given a 28-day mandate earlier this month to form a government., with the sides scrapping over appointments and legislative priorities. The mandate expires December 11, but can be extended for two weeks.

The Likud leader has made progress in talks with ultra-Orthodox Shas and UTJ parties, but Religious Zionism has proved a tougher nut to crack.

Talks with Smotrich have been mired in mutual accusations, with Religious Zionism claiming Netanyahu had gone back on promises, and Likud accusing the far-right party of making exaggerated demands in exchange for joining the coalition.

The meeting is planned for 9 p.m., Ynet reports.

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