Ze'ev Elkin
Outgoing coalition chairman Zeev Elkin. Photo by Michal Fattal
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There are four candidates for coalition chairman in Israel's next government, but none of them want the job.

Tzachi Hanegbi, Ofir Akunis, Yariv Levin and Danny Danon have been floated as candidates, but they would prefer to be appointed ministers. The coalition chairmanship is one of the most important and exhausting positions in the government. The official must coordinate the different factions, make sure all the coalition MKs show up for votes and discussions and, most importantly, prevent the opposition from humiliating the government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will need to appoint an MK with extraordinary abilities: negotiating skills, the power of persuasion and the shrewdness to compromise while meeting the new coalition's ambitious demands. Few MKs are up to the task, especially since it requires facing down feisty opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich.

Zeev Elkin was very successful as the most recent coalition chairman. On his watch, Tzipi Livni's opposition failed to undermine Netanyahu's government, pass laws or embarrass the coalition in any way. Elkin showed political agility and sophistication in achieving these successes, navigating between the ultra-Orthodox parties, Ehud Barak's Atzmaut and Habayit Hayehudi.

At the moment, the four main candidates for the position see it as a burden, rather than a professional springboard or promotion. In their minds, it is simply evidence that they were unable to secure positions as minister or chairs of desirable committees.

Hanegbi has accepted that he will not be made a minister as he had hoped, because there are too many candidates for the few available slots. Akunis still hopes to be made a minister or deputy minister. And Levin and Danon have said they do not want to be deputy ministers and would prefer to head major committees. Levin has his eye on the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.