Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet today with the head of the Jewish Home party in an effort to get support for a new government before U.S. President Barack Obama visits later this month.
The Israeli leader’s Likud-Beitenu electoral slate won the largest number of parliamentary seats in Jan. 22 elections, giving him the chance to form another government. President Shimon Peres granted Netanyahu an additional two weeks yesterday to muster the more than 60 parliamentary seats needed for a ruling coalition.
Netanyahu’s efforts are being complicated by the insistence of two potential coalition partners, Jewish Home and Yesh Atid parties, that the new government limit military draft exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews. Likud-Beitenu holds 31 parliamentary seats, Yesh Atid 19, and Jewish Home 12.
Religious parties representing the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sector, a traditional Netanyahu ally, say they won’t join a coalition under those conditions.
Netanyahu said yesterday he was trying to put together as wide a government coalition as possible and criticized what he called “boycotts” by some parties of the ultra-Orthodox.
“There is a boycott of a sector of society in the State of Israel and that doesn’t fit my view,” Netanyahu said in a meeting with Peres. “I hope that the leaders of the parties will be responsible and show leadership, which in my eyes means uniting and not dividing the nation.”
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