Sovereignty over Judea, Samaria main sticking point holding up coalition talks

Negotiations are ongoing but significant gaps will probably delay a coalition until after Passover, or even Israeli Independence Day.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Likud and Blue and White negotiating teams met late Saturday night to continue their talks to enable the formation of a unity government, but gaps still remain that may delay its formation until well after the Passover holiday.

There are two main sticking points, according to a Sunday report by Ynet. One is the timing over the application of sovereignty over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to lock in Blue and White’s approval for a specific timetable within the coalition agreement. Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz wants to deal with this issue only after the end of the coronavirus crisis.

According to the Likud and its right-wing allies, there is a unique window of opportunity to apply sovereignty to significant areas of Judea and Samaria as part of the Trump administration’s deal of the century.

Another disagreement is over the make-up of the Judges Appointments Committee, which the Likud would like to control, considering that it has agreed to give up the Justice Ministry to its rival. Gantz opposes this, partly to block any potential interference as Netanyahu is set to go on trial for corruption charges next month.

Even if a coalition agreement is hammered out in the coming days, one aspect will likely be challenged in the courts: The proposal to swear in what would in essence be two prime ministers, even though Gantz would formally be the deputy prime minister for the first 18 months of his term.

An official, prime-ministerial residence for Gantz is set to be established, which Netanyahu would then move into after Gantz takes over for him.

The Supreme Court may also be petitioned regarding the number of ministerial posts being created to satisfy all the coalition needs. The current talk revolves around more than 30 ministers, which would mean one quarter of the Knesset simultaneously serving as part of the executive branch.

The calendar itself may also work against the quick formation of a government.

Ordinarily, the Knesset shuts down for a month-long break beginning right before the Passover holiday and ending the week after Israeli Independence Day. The actual number of working days are limited in that time, considering the national holidays that come in between as well (the Mimouna – a North African Jewish celebration, Holocaust Remembrance Day and Memorial Day).

The lawmakers could decide to shorten the recess to vote on the coalition and conduct legislative sessions.