The Likud party, led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, is set to hold primary elections next month. Members will cast their ballots on January 4, 2015 to decide who will lead the party, just a day before primaries are held by the Bayit Yehudi party, led by Naftali Bennett, for the same reason.
The announcement that the two leading right wing parties in Israel are both set to hold primary elections next month comes in the wake of a failed “peace” attempt between Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, chairman of the left-centrist Yesh Atid party, on Monday night.
The prime minister told Lapid at that meeting the coalition would be unable to stand as long as Lapid and his party members continued to attack the very same government in which they participate.
Netanyahu listed five conditions to be met by Lapid in order to hold the coalition together and avoid early elections:
- Cease attacks on the coalition, Israeli construction in Jerusalem and the nation’s relations with the United States;
- Transfer NIS 6 billion to the defense budget to fund development of APCs (armored personnel carriers), the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, and military training programs;
- Release funds to facilitate the IDF move to the Negev in accordance with previous agreements. The project was officially frozen Sunday by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon due to a lack of funds from Finance Ministry;
- Support the Jewish State Law version authored by Netanyahu as presented at the cabinet meeting on Sunday;
- Freeze the zero percent VAT bill, a centerpiece project of Yair Lapid.
Given the final condition in particular, it appears that early elections are inevitable. The zero percent VAT bill is one that Lapid has promised his constituents he will pass.
The Yesh Atid party said in an official statement following the Netanyahu-Lapid meeting that the prime minister “chose to act irresponsibly and put the needs of the Israeli public at the end of his list of priorities… The prime minister prefers to drag the entire economy into elections that will paralyze the economy, will stop all the reforms designed to benefit the citizens of Israel and prevent young couples from having the opportunity to buy their own apartment with the realization of the zero percent VAT law.”