With deadline looming, Netanyahu struggles to form government

Israeli media has reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preoccupied with seeking legislation that would grant him immunity from prosecution.
Israeli media has reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preoccupied with seeking legislation that would grant him immunity from prosecution.PHOTO: AFP

TEL AVIV (DPA) - Less than two weeks ahead of his coalition-building deadline, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused potential partners of making unrealistic demands.

"Regarding the coalition, I regret that the parties are still in the treetops," he said on Sunday (May 19) at a weekly Cabinet meeting.

"I hope that a way will be found soon to bring them down to the ground of reality so that together we can form a strong and stable government for the State of Israel that will continue to lead the country to new heights," he added.

Last week, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin approved Mr Netanyahu's request for a two-week extension to form a government, giving him until May 29.

Israeli media has reported that Mr Netanyahu is preoccupied with seeking legislation that would grant him immunity from prosecution.

His Likud party denied on Friday that the subject is part of coalition agreements, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit said at the end of February that he intends to press charges against Mr Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, pending a hearing.

 
 
 

On Sunday morning, the Cabinet voted to cancel a 2013 law limiting the number of ministers to 18.

The decision still has to pass three votes in Parliament; if it goes through it will give Mr Netanyahu more leverage in negotiations as he'll have more jobs to hand out.

A major issue holding up the formation of Mr Netanyahu's government is a long-standing dispute between secular and religious parties over legislation that would oblige ultra-Orthodox Jews to enlist in the army.