What a cholent of Israeli politics! Lapid wants to stir the pot, Bayit Yehudi are "Goyim" proclaims Shas, Bibi and his wife hate everyone, Liberman is communal diplomat all of a sudden, and Tzippi has become a shtark Baales Teshuva now defending the Haredi desire to remain in Yeshiva.
Ok Livni isn't a Baales Teshuva, true, but this is a leibedic Knesset for sure; worth watching will be the Lapid - Shas - Bayit Yehudi triangle that includes mudslinging and every other low grade attack technique known to Mankind.
Welcome to Israeland, Mr. Obama, the home of true Jewish Politics at its finest, in perhaps history's most crucial moments of all time.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will hold a long awaited meeting with his former chief of staff, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, next week amid increasing tension between the leaders of the two right-wing parties.
As of Thursday night, Bennett had not received an invitation to meet Netanyahu, hours after the Likud released a statement saying that the prime minister would hold one-on-on talks at the beginning of next week with the leaders of Bayit Yehudi and the haredi parties as part of his effort to form a broad national-unity government.
Bennett is the only party leader among the 12 in the Knesset who has not met with Netanyahu since the January 22 election. The only contact between them has been a quick phone call in which Netanyahu congratulated Bennett on winning 12 seats and a limp, forced handshake in the Knesset after Bennett was sworn in. Netanyahu instead sent his No. 2 in Likud Beytenu, Avigdor Liberman to meet with Bennett.
Netanyahu has not met with Bennett since 2008, when he quit his job as the then-opposition leader's chief of staff following repeated disputes with Netanyahu's wife Sara. The Bayit Yehudi leader has made a point of treating Netanyahu with respect, tweeting that he respects the tremendous weight on the prime minister's shoulders and wishing him success for the good of all of Israel.
But Bennett's associates have complained that Netanyahu has shown disrespect by calling Ta'al leader Ahmed Tibi before he called Bennett and devoting Thursday afternoon to a meeting with Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On, who has no chance of joining the government, rather than an expected coalition partner with 12 seats.
Bayit Yehudi officials said Netanyahu was continuing to act like the election had not ended, following a campaign in which the Likud in general and the prime minister specifically repeatedly attacked Bennett and his Knesset slate.
Although the Likud did release a statement two weeks ago saying that Bayit Yehudi would be included in the coalition, there are still those in Bennett's party who are concerned that Netanyahu will exclude him as a gesture to US President Barack Obama or low-ball Bayit Yehudi with an offer Bennett cannot accept.
In an effort to improve Bayit Yehudi's negotiating position, the party has been coordinating its strategy with Yesh Atid. But Bayit Yehudi officials have denied reaching understandings with Yesh Atid that both parties will either join the coalition or go to the opposition.
Netanyahu met with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid for two and a half hours Thursday at Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem. Both sides described the meeting as very good and reported that progress was made on building the coalition.
The leaders of the Knesset's two largest parties discussed how to equalize the burden of IDF service, effort's to prevent Iran's nuclearization, and the upcoming visit to Israel of US President Barack Obama. They reportedly also discussed portfolios though neither side would confirm that.
Bayit Yehudi MK Uri Ariel revealed on Israel Radio that Yesh Atid had made serious concessions on its plan for drafting yeshiva students, but he said much still needed to get done to bridge the gaps on the issue among the potential coalition partners.
"If Lapid doesn't compromise, he can stay in the opposition," Shas chairman Eli Yishai said. " If he doesn't understand that the nation cannot be torn apart, the prime minister will have to decide whether we or they will be in or out."
Following recent attacks he suffered from Shas, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett urged the haredi party on Thursday to stop attacking him and instead work with him to integrate haredim into service.
"I represent a very large public, both religious and not, and I cannot accept nor do I understand the meaning of these attacks," Bennett wrote on his Facebook page.
He added that Bayit Yehudi has been working "to find a way to integrate the haredim into the Israeli economy and into service to the State of Israel, without harming the world of Torah."
"I've been meeting with dozens of haredim... and I believe that if we remove the conversation of hatred we could finally solve the problem," he said.
On Thursday morning, the Shas-affiliated newspaper Yom LeYom attacked Bennett in an editorial for siding with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid in promoting equality of service, accusing him of trying to destroy the world of Torah.
An official in the paper said the harsh criticism in the editorial received the approval of the party's spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. The editorial said Bennett is "the man with the kipa the size of an eye demonstrates just how much this kipa is worth - half a shekel."
Following the publication of the editorial, Shas leader Eli Yishai called Bennett to apologize for the accusations in the Shas mouthpiece, saying the party leadership did not approve the views expressed in the editorial.
Bayit Yehudi MK Rabbi Eliahu Ben-Dahan slammed the paper, saying "there isn't a single word of truth" written in the editorial.
"These words constitute slander against God fearing men, who love Israel and the Jewish people, and who can definitely teach Shas a lesson or two about values and about how to combine army service with Torah studying," Ben-Dahan said.