A compromise presented by HaBayit HaYehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett on Wednesday means a government is finally being formed in Israel. Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid will be receiving the Education Ministry portfolio for Shay Piron and will forgo his demands for the role of Interior Minister.
According to the proposal, Bennett will receive the Knesset Finance Committee, the Likud will receive an additional deputy minister, and the agreement with Tzipi Livni’s party will remain in place.
The HaBayit HaYehudi party estimates that the compromise will be accepted by Yesh Atid and the Likud. Lapid’s party was optimistic and said that things were going in a “positive direction.”
Lapid’s negotiation representative met with Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman and officially heard the proposal. Earlier on Wednesday, Lapid and Bennett met at the former’s home in Tel Aviv to discuss the Likud’s declaration that if Yesh Atid’s chairman did not lower his demands, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would go on to conduct negotiations with the chareidi parties and form a government without Lapid. Responding to Likud’s ultimatum, Bennett wrote on his Facebook page: “My friends from Likud. Forget about it. It won’t work like this. There are gaps. We have to talk and compromise. All of us. Until a government is established. There is a country we need to worry about.”
The coalition agreement that will send Israel’s 33rd government on its way, sources in the Likud/Yisrael Beiteinu said, appears to be a great achievement for the Religious Zionist movement. According to sources, HaBayit HaYehudi will receive three portfolios. Naftali Bennett will be Minister of Industry, Trade, and Labor, and an MK from the party will be named Sports and Culture Minister. Bennett will also be given the Religious Affairs, Diaspora, and Jerusalem portfolio. Uri Ariel will be the Minister of Construction and Housing and will be in charge of the Israel Lands Administration. This should be very good news for residents of Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem, because Ariel is unlikely to cooperate with any scheme for housing freezes in these areas, and will likely make every effort to increase construction there. Bayit Yehudi will also head the Knesset Finance Committee, and possibly the Ministry of Elderly Affairs as well.
A deadlock over the formation of a government was broken after the Likud conceded the Education Ministry to Yesh Atid. Rabbi Shai Piron, number two on the Yesh Atid list, will be named Education Minister. Yair Lapid will be named Finance Minister. Yesh Atid will receive two more portfolios, the sources said: Yael German will be named Health Minister, and Ya’akov Peri will be named Science Minister. Tzipi Livni will be Justice Minister, and Amir Peretz, number two on the Hatnu’a list, will be named Environment Minister.
A report on Channel One said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will not name a deputy. It is not clear who will be appointed to run the government’s day-to-day affairs when Netanyahu is abroad.
Sources in the Likud said that the deal, while far from ideal, was somewhat better than had been expected. The Likud/Yisrael Beiteinu will retain the Interior Ministry, which had been a bone of contention between Yesh Atid and the Likud. The party will also retain the Foreign Ministry, which will be held “in trust” for Avigdor Lieberman, pending the resolution of his corruption trial.
According to the agreement, the next cabinet will be smaller and include 20 ministers (not including Netanyahu) and 8 deputy ministers. (David Lev for Arutz Sheva & Moran Azulay for YNetNews) v