Yesh Atid eyeing powerful Knesset Finance Committee

Yesh Atid eyeing powerful Knesset Finance Committee

Yair Lapid-led party, expected to be a linchpin of coalition, reportedly sees chairmanship of panel as on par with top ministerships

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Yair Lapid (photo credit: Miriam Alster, Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Benjamin Netanyahu and Yair Lapid (photo credit: Miriam Alster, Moshe Shai/Flash90)

The up-and-coming Yesh Atid party will reportedly demand the chairmanship of the Knesset Finance Committee as a condition for joining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s future coalition.

The party, which won 19 seats in last week’s election and is expected to be a linchpin of the ruling coalition, is also looking to take control of the Housing and Construction Ministry, among other government posts, Haaretz reported, citing unnamed sources.

Netanyahu, widely expected to lead the new coalition, has reportedly offered Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid his pick of top cabinet positions.

Yesh Atid is expected to also be afforded smaller posts and powerful Knesset committees.

The Knesset’s Finance Committee, tasked with distributing the state’s budget, is one of the most influential and powerful bodies in the government. The committee chairman, currently Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism, is considered to be a key figure, on par with many ministers.

Over the last several years, the committee has been controlled by the ultra-Orthodox UTJ.

Yesh Atid campaigned partially on socioeconomic issues, and a source close to the party’s coalition negotiation team said controlling the committee was as important as holding the Finance Ministry portfolio.

“In our campaign we asked ‘where is the money?’ and we have no doubt that the money passes through this committee,” said the source. “There is no point in accepting an important portfolio if the Finance Committee will still be headed by an ultra-Orthodox Knesset member motivated by a political agenda completely different than that of most of the country’s citizens, who will do whatever he pleases and block the ministry’s moves.”

Yesh Atid did not confirm the reports, stating that “at this point, the party is not concerned with positions but with values.”

President Shimon Peres is expected to meet with Yesh Atid and Likud officials Wednesday ahead of nominating a candidate to cobble together a coalition. He will meet with leaders of the rest of the parties in the coming days.

Yesh Atid reportedly met with Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett to discuss working together.

Though the nationalist Jewish Home stands well to the right of Yesh Atid on issues regarding the Palestinians, the two share common ground on working to create a universal military draft that includes the ultra-Orthodox.

Both parties will reportedly recommend that Peres nominate Netanyahu

Peres is expected to announce his decision on Thursday evening or Friday morning, officially launching coalition negotiations.

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