Edelstein, who resigned as Knesset speaker, tells Netanyahu he wants job back
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Edelstein, who resigned as Knesset speaker, tells Netanyahu he wants job back

PM meets with senior members of his Likud party to discuss their future roles in coming unity government with Blue and White, which has vetoed Edelstein return

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, with then-Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, at the Likud party faction meeting at the Knesset, April 30, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, with then-Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, at the Likud party faction meeting at the Knesset, April 30, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Former Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, who resigned from the role on March 25 rather than hold a vote on his replacement, told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday that he wants the job back.

Edelstein met with Netanyahu to discuss his role in the coming unity government between their Likud party and their former rivals in the Blue and White party, led by current speaker Benny Gantz.

Edelstein has been seeking to reassume the position ever since he left it in March, flouting a Supreme Court order for him to hold a vote on his replacement. The Blue and White party has refused to have Edelstein return, with some in the faction describing his actions as anti-democratic.

Gantz took over as speaker at the end of March, amid negotiations that eventually led to a deal for an “emergency” unity government to deal with the coronavirus outbreak and end a political deadlock that saw three elections within a year fail to produce a government, the last vote being held on March 2.

Earlier in the day, Netanyahu met with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to talk about the position he will have in the coming government. Unlike the talk with Edelstein, which was said to have been strained, the meeting with Erdan went well, and the two agreed to continue discussions in the near future, Hebrew media reported.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks at the 17th annual Jerusalem Conference of the ‘Besheva’ group, on February 24, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)

Although the unity deal has been agreed to and the new government is set to be sworn in on Thursday, negotiations are still underway over some portfolios. Blue and White wants the Health Ministry, which is to be vacated by United Torah Judaism leader Yaakov Litzman in favor of the Housing Ministry.

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev is keen on getting the Public Security portfolio, although the ministry is expected to go to Justice Minister Amir Ohana, while Regev will take over the Transportation Ministry.

The national religious Yamina party, a long-time ally of Netanyahu, announced Sunday that it will be heading to the opposition, after its talks with Likud, aimed at joining the “emergency” government, fell apart over the weekend.

Under the three-year coalition deal signed April 20, Netanyahu — who is facing a trial for corruption in the coming months — would serve as prime minister for 18 months, with Gantz as his alternate, a new position in Israeli governance.

They will swap roles midway through the three-year deal, while cabinet positions will be split between Netanyahu’s Likud party and Gantz’s Blue and White alliance, as well as their respective allies.

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