THE question of who might be Israel’s next leader was reduced to a haggling match this week.
It happened as Benjamin Netanyahu and Yamina Party chief Naftali Bennett were locked in talks to see if they could work together to form a right-wing government, the Times of Israel website reported.
But, after four rounds of talks, they appeared unable to strike a potential agreement to rotate the prime ministership between them.
It means that coalition talks have remained stalled since President Reuven Rivlin tasked Netanyahu with forming the next government.
TV reports said that Bennett was demanding a formula of Netanyahu serving as PM for one year, Bennett in the hot seat for the next two and Netanyahu returning for the final year.
However, Netanyahu’s preference was to hold the office for two years and then step aside for Bennett.
As the two men searched for common ground, other possibilities emerged in the quest to give Israel a workable coalition.
One report said that Netanyahu believes that Bennett is only going through the motions with him and has already decided to join forces with Opposition chief Yair Lapid.
Another complication is over Netanyahu wooing Mansour Abbas, the leader of Ra’am — an Islamist party.
But if Abbas, with his four seats, agrees to be seduced, Netanyahu could lose the support of religious parties who are loathe to co-operate with an Islamist.
It all could mean the scenario no one wants — a dreaded fifth election.
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