Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) spoke with Arutz Sheva on Sunday about the stuck coalition negotiations and the demands of the parties that are expected to be part of the next coalition.
When questioned whether there will be or will not be a new government at the end of the allotted period for negotiations, Hotovely stated, "There will be a government if people understand their political power and won't be extortionists."
In a direct appeal to MK Bezalel Smotrich (Union of Right-Wing Parties), Hotovely said, "The voters want to see you as a minister in the right-wing government and not see you torpedo the establishment of a right-wing government. There's no doubt that MK Yariv Levin will do the same work with the legal system with the same ideology you want to implement. Give the Likud the lead on the legal system."
"Religious Zionism is part of a large system, partly in the Likud and partly in the sectoral party. If we join forces, we'll bring about change, But if everyone feels that they are the largest and strongest when we, the ruling party, is the largest party with 35 seats, the public will lose trust in us."
Hotovely calls on the Union of Right-Wing Parties to join the government and accept the prime minister's proposal to grant them the Education Ministry and Ministry of Public Security. "These are very generous offers and we have to convene to form a government because we are approaching the deadline."
In spite of the decisive tone of her words, Hotovely makes it clear that her party is not afraid of a repeat of elections, and that fear is not what's motivating her to make these comments. What's motivating her is the public's desire to form a right-wing government under Netanyahu. "It's still possible to convene to form a government."
We questioned Hotovely about statements made by Smotrich to Arutz Sheva a few days ago that, putting aside the issue of the ministries, the Likud negotiating team refused to include demands on the issue of settlements in the government's basic principles from the start. Smotrich claimed that although Levin is personally supportive of these demands, as the representative of the prime minister, he is still unwilling to agree on a declaration that territory will not be handed over to any foreign entity, the revocation of the Disengagement Law, at least for northern Samaria and action against the Palestinian takeover of Area C.
Hotovely responded, "I don't think that is the area of dispute - I understood that the ministries are what is under dispute. In the face of the Trump plan, we have to say that we are moving forward with settlements, and not only that we don't want a withdrawal of land. We want this plan to advance us to apply sovereignty over the settlements in Judea and Samaria. I hope that these things will appear in the government's basic guidelines."
"It is perfectly clear to me that there will be an agreement on these issues. MK Levin will tell you that these are not the core issues, There are other issues that are under dispute. There is no ideological gap between the Likud and Bayit Yehudi. You have to understand that a party of five mandates cannot demand what a party of 35 seats wants."
What about the disagreement between Liberman and the haredi parties? This dispute, from the perspective of the Likud, is more complex because in this case, it is not the Likud's concession that will calm the hawks, but only an agreement between the two sides. It's doubtful whether the intervention of the Likud will lead to an agreement between the two sides.
"There are ongoing talks with Liberman," Hotovely responded. "Netanyahu spoke with Liberman. There's a desire to explain to Liberman that the issues of religion and state are completely solvable. We have to remember that these are people who sat together in Israeli governments, including the previous government, so there is an ability to reach agreements. We're not talking about a matter of Liberman creating a total turnabout in enlisting haredim into the IDF. The dispute can be solved with good will. The question is whether or not there is such a desire."
"If Lieberman doesn't want to be part of the next government, the right-wing public will judge him for it. He's losing points in the public for being viewed as preventing the political system from joining the government that the people have chosen."
"Everyone needs to be flexible, but as far as we're concerned, Liberman climbed a tree that is too high. We would be happy to see Smotrich sign the agreement of the principles of the coalition negotiations and lovingly accept the very generous ministries that were offered him," Hotovely concluded.