Netanyahu said to offer Miri Regev Foreign Ministry when Gantz takes premiership

PM officially informs Rivlin, Gantz that he is able to form government, signalling end to nearly 18 months of political deadlock

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Culture Minister Miri Regev in the Knesset on February 8, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Culture Minister Miri Regev in the Knesset on February 8, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly offered Likud’s Miri Regev to be appointed foreign minister in 18 months, when Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz takes over as premier in the rotation government between the two parties.

According to a Channel 12 news report Wednesday, under Netanyahu’s offer Regev will begin as transportation minister in the new government, before moving to the Foreign Ministry when Gantz becomes prime minister on November 14, 2021.

Regev, who is currently culture minister, reportedly did not rule out the offer.

The Likud party refused to comment on the report.

The network described the offer as compensation to Regev, who publicly expressed interest in heading the Public Security Ministry. Reports last week said she told Netanyahu she wouldn’t serve as a minister at all if she was not appointed to the post.

The ministry, which is responsible for overseeing police, is now expected to go to outgoing Justice Minister Amir Ohana, a close ally of the premier.

Blue and White MK Gabi Ashkenazi will initially be foreign minister in the new government, which is set to be sworn in Thursday evening.

President Reuven Rivlin, center, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz shake hands at the memorial ceremony for the late president Shimon Peres at the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem on September 19, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Netanyahu’s reported offer to Regev came as he informed President Reuven Rivlin and Gantz, who is currently Knesset speaker, that he is able to form a government, signaling an end to nearly 18 months of political deadlock that included three rounds of elections in which Likud and Blue and White squared off.

It also came as Netanyahu continued to divvy up ministerial portfolios among Likud lawmakers and his party signed an agreement with the ultra-Orthodox Shas party to bring it into the new government.

“I welcome the signing of the coalition agreement with Shas, the most senior partner of Likud and the first of the partners in the right-wing bloc to join the government,” Likud MK Yariv Levin, who will become Knesset speaker, said in a statement.

Shas MK Ariel Atias (left) and Likud MK Yariv Levin sign the parties’ coalition deal, May 13, 2020 (Courtesy)

Levin singled out Shas leader Aryeh Deri for praise, saying he was “central in the process to form a government and to bridge the differences” with Blue and White.

Deri, who will stay on as interior minister, announced that Yaakov Avitan, a rabbi from the southern city of Ashkelon, would be Shas’s candidate for religious affairs minister.

Likud is set to a sign an agreement later with United Torah Judaism, another ultra-Orthodox party, while continuing to remain at loggerheads with national-religious ally Yamina over its role in the next government.

A Channel 13 report said Netanyahu met Wednesday evening with Yamina’s Rafi Peretz, the outgoing education minister, in a last-ditch attempt to convince him to enter the new government, even without the rest of the party.

Blue and White, meanwhile, inked a deal with Derech Eretz, a small right-wing faction.

Derech Eretz comprises just two MKs — Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser — who were part of Moshe Ya’alon’s Telem party in the previous iteration of Blue and White and broke off to join Gantz when the alliance split up due to Gantz’s decision to enter into a coalition with Netanyahu.

Hendel was reportedly slated to become communications minister while Hauser could chair the powerful Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Blue and White is also expected to sign an agreement with Labor MKs Amir Peretz and Itzik Shmuli.

Knesset members Yoaz Hendel (L) and Zvi Hauser (R) seen at the Knesset , ahead of the opening session of the new government, on April 29, 2019 (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Under the coalition deal signed last month between Likud and Blue and White, the new government will initially have 32 ministers — divided equally between the Netanyahu- and Gantz-led blocs — before swelling to 36 in six months in what would be the largest government in Israel’s history.

According to a Channel 12 report Monday, Netanyahu wants the new government to begin with 36 ministers, which could help him deal with pressure for ministerial positions within Likud as well as possibly paving the way for Yamina to join.

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