A late night meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid ended in acrimony, with the two increasingly at odds over the direction of the coalition government.
Netanyahu threatened early elections and issued a litany of demands, including an end to criticizing settlements, and an end to Lapid’s tax cut proposal, as well as a demand that Lapid support his “Jewish nationhood” bill.
Lapid rejected all of the demands, which is adding to speculation that the coalition could fall and early elections could have to be called. Israel’s next elections are not scheduled until 2017.
Lapid’s party, along with the party of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, are accusing Netanyahu of deliberately sabotaging the talks with the more moderate cabinet members in an attempt to worsen the political crisis. Lapid and Livni’s parties are both expected to lose seats in the next election.
Livni’s party added to the intrigue surrounding the split by claiming Netanyahu had a secret deal with the ultra-Orthodox parties to replace them. That’s hard to imagine with the ultra-Orthodox parties so at odds with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s secular right-wing party.