Lapid and Bennett
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, left, and Habayit Hayehudi head Naftali Bennett at the swearing-in ceremony for new Knesset members on Feb. 5, 2013. Photo by Emil Salman
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Emil Salman
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, center left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the swearing-in ceremony of the 19th Knesset in Jerusalem, Feb. 5, 2013. Photo by Emil Salman

Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid will probably get the finance portfolio, sources said Friday, while Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett will be Israel's next Labor, Trade and Industry minister.

According to the officials, Israel's new coalition will be presented at the start of the coming week.

Significant progress was made after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid on Friday morning at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem. The meeting was described as "positive" and, according to a source close to the parties, progress was made that will pave the way for Yesh Atid to join Netanyahu's third government.

Government sources told Haaretz that Lapid and Netanyahu agreed that the Yesh Atid chairman could choose between the Finance Ministry portfolio and an expanded Interior Ministry portfolio. Sources later said that it is likely that Lapid will opt for the finance portfolio.

By Thursday evening, one key issue had seemed close to a compromise − the size of the cabinet. Sources close to Netanyahu said the cabinet would have between 23 and 25 ministers and that a bill would be advanced for the following cabinet to have only 18 ministers − the maximum number of ministers that Lapid demanded during his election campaign.

After the meeting between Lapid and Netanyahu on Friday morning, Likud sources said some parties will get more ministers than was previously being allowed for. They estimated that Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu will each have four ministers instead of three, and Likud will get eight instead of six.

With regards to religion and state, the platform that includes single-sex marriages and public transportation on Saturdays was not adopted by Likud.

So far, Lapid’s insistence on the Foreign Ministry has been the stumbling block to forming a government. But Likud sources said Friday that they suspect Lapid will drop this demand. "We are under the impression that there is a very big chance Lapid will ultimately decide to go for the Finance Minstry portfolio," Likud sources said Friday.

Another meeting has been planned for negotiation teams of Lapid and Netanyahu, during which they will finalize arrangements for the distribution of ministerial portfolios and the bill for an equal sharing of the burden.