As the incoming coalition parties prepared to finalize terms on Wednesday night, a new battle was gathering pace — among Likud would-be ministers, for a seat at the cabinet table.
The new government is set to comprise 22 ministers, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Inside Yesh Atid, Jewish Home and Hatnua, the likely partners to Netanyahu’s Likud-Beytenu in the 68-strong emerging coalition, most of the ministerial appointments are already clear. Not so in Likud, where too many outgoing ministers and would-be incoming ministers are seeking far too few jobs.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid is set to become finance minister, and his No. 2 Rabbi Shai Piron minister of education — with a Likud deputy minister. Former Shin Bet security chief Yaakov Peri, No. 5 on the Yesh Atid list, will likely serve as minister of science, with a seat too on a smaller ministerial committee dealing with key security and diplomatic matters. The party’s Meir Cohen is heading for the Welfare Ministry and Yael German for the Health Ministry. Ofer Shelach will likely be deputy minister of defense.
Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett will become minister of economics and trade. His party colleague Uri Ariel will run the Housing Ministry, Uri Orbach may be appointed minister of sport, and Eli Ben Dahan will be deputy minister of religious affairs, with no minister above him, media reports said Wednesday.
Tzipi Livni, who signed a coalition deal with Netanyahu last month, is to serve as justice minister, with her Hatnua party colleague Amir Peretz at environment.
The Foreign Ministry portfolio is to be held by Netanyahu, to hand over to former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman should he beat the fraud and breach of trust charges that forced his resignation in December. Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu No. 2 Yair Shamir is slated for the Agriculture Ministry, Yitzhak Aharonovitch will continue at the Ministry of Internal Security, Sofa Landver will stay at Immigrant Absorption, and Uzi Landau is to become minister of tourism, according to the reports.
All of those appointments leave only seven posts for Likud. The party’s former IDF chief of General Staff Moshe Ya’alon is set to succeed Ehud Barak as minister of defense. Gideon Sa’ar, who lost his job as education minister in the final compromise deal with Yesh Atid, may become interior minister, but also faces a challenge from Gilad Erdan and Silvan Shalom, two senior outgoing Likud ministers.
Other outgoing Likud ministers seeking posts include Yisrael Katz, Yuval Steinitz and Limor Livnat. Then there are high-placed Likud relative youngsters such as Danny Danon, Tzipi Hotovely and Gila Gamliel. And Netanyahu thinks highly of veteran Tzachi Hanegbi.
Another element of the Wednesday compromise will reportedly see Jewish Home gain control of the Knesset’s powerful Finance Committee, a task likely to fall to Nissan Slomiansky.
And Likud’s Yuli Edelstein is reportedly set to replace Reuven Rivlin as the Knesset speaker.