(Israel Hayom/ Exclusive to JNS.org) With just four days to go before Israelis go to the polls, the likely ruling party is sending a clear message on the preferred makeup of the next coalition of the Israeli government. All the so-called natural coalition partners (Shas, United Torah Judaism, and Habayit Hayehudi), as well as one or two parties from the Left, will be invited into the next coalition if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is re-elected, Likud sources said Thursday.
As of now, the joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list will probably try to convince one or two parties from the Center-Left to join a coalition that includes the ultra-Orthodox parties and other parties from the Right. The Sephardi haredi party Shas, the Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism, and religious-Zionist Habayit Hayehudi will be asked to join first. As for the parties on the Center-Left, former journalist Yair Lapid's party, Yesh Atid, appears to be Netanyahu's first choice.
Should the centrist Kadima get enough votes to qualify for Knesset seats, Netanyahu will want to include it in his government, the Likud says.
Former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni's Hatnuah party is not ruled out as a coalition partner, but it will be courted less than others, the Likud sources say. They stressed that Netanyahu believes a partnership with Labor will not be feasible because its leader, Shelly Yachimovich, has pledged not to join a Likud-led government. The Likud has also denied reports that its renowned campaign guru Arthur Finkelstein has left the campaign.