JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has until midnight tonight to form a coalition government.
Israeli media reported Wednesday morning that Netanyahu had agreed to concessions including either the justice minister or foreign minister positions to the Jewish Home Party headed by Naftali Bennett in order to induce him to agree to join the government with his party’s eight seats.
Bennett reportedly has been holding out on joining the government and has made himself unreachable by phone in the last two days of negotiations.
On Monday, Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party, pulled out of coalition talks and joined the opposition. The Yisrael Beiteinu Party ran with Likud on a joint slate in the 2013 national elections.
Netanyahu currently has 53 Knesset seats signed on to his coalition government, made up of his Likud Party with 30 seats; the centrist Kulanu Party with 10 seats, the Sephardic Orthodox Shas Party with seven seats, and the haredi Orthodox United Torah Judaism Party with six seats.
The addition of the Jewish Home party would create a government with 61 seats. Sixty seats are required to form a government.
Netanyahu must inform Israeli President Reuven Rivlin by 11:59 on Wednesday night that he has formed a government. The Knesset then has one week to schedule a vote to approve the new government. If Netanyahu is unable to form a majority coalition government, Rivlin could choose another party head, likely Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Union, to try to form a government.