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The impasse in coalition talks between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman continued over the weekend with mutual recriminations threatening Netanyahu's ability to form a majority in the Knesset by Wednesday.
Sources close to President Reuven Rivlin noted that he accused Netanyahu of building "the broadest and most stable government possible." Rivlin is not expected to make a statement on whether a coalition of 60 MKs without Yisrael Beytenu is acceptable.
But the sources revealed that, according to the law, there is a loophole that could give Netanyahu another two weeks to form a government.
According to the Basic Law: The Government, if the MK the president chose to form a government does not do, the president can grant another MK four weeks to build a coalition. But if it is clear to him that there is no other MK who can do it, Rivlin could recommend to Knesset President Yuli Edelstein to disperse the Knesset and start an election within 100 days.
In such a scenario, most of the Knesset could then ask Rivlin to give Netanyahu another chance to build a coalition. Netanyahu would then receive another 14 days, and only if he failed would the elections automatically begin.
Netanyahu summoned all possible coalition partners for an emergency meeting on Thursday night, but Liberman refused to appear. At the meeting, it became clear that Netanyahu was seeking a coalition of 60 MKs without Yisrael Beytenu.
Liberman denied Netanyahu's accusations on Friday that he is preventing a right-wing coalition from being formed for failing to advance in coalition talks. He said he has conducted coalition talks in the past for both Likud and the leader of his current party, and has never seen coalition talks so negligent.
"This is the price of arrogance," Liberman said. "If we have to go to another election, it will only be because of Likud's failure to conduct negotiations. It is no coincidence that this is the first time since the founding of the state that someone who has won a convincing victory is not able to form a government. "
Liberman also made it clear that if the bill was approved as originally written, Yisrael Beytenu would join the coalition. In a meeting with Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael on Friday, Liberman said that "there has never been a leader who has given more to haredim than Netanyahu since the days of the Second Temple."
He also revealed that Likud had spoken to him about forming a "different kind of government," a reference to a national unity government including the Blue and White Party.
Likud reacted to Liberman saying that "the party's only opening to him was and remains a right-wing government under Netanyahu."
UTJ replied to Liberman that "everyone with a brain understands that Liberman does not want to join Netanyahu's government, which is why he left him a few months ago.
UTJ leaders, YaС "acov Litzman and Moshe Gafni, said in a statement that Liberman was using the draft constitution as an excuse not to unite and prevent the formation of a right-wing government.
"We have never, ever asked that Israel become a state of Jewish law," said Litzman and Gafni. "He wants to overthrow Netanyahu and form a leftist government."
Ilanit Chernick contributed to this report.
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