Coalition Negotiations Continue |

Bennett to Demand Finance Committee, Post Coveted by Ally Lapid

Sources say option of rotation being examined for education portfolio, in which Shai Piron from Yesh Atid and Gideon Sa'ar from Likud will alternate as Education Minister after two years.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Naftali Bennett's Habayit Hayehudi is demanding chairmanship of the prestigious Knesset Finance Committee, as compensation for a reduction in the number of ministers representing their party in the next Israeli government.

However, Habayit Hayehudi's ally, Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid, is demanding chairmanship of the committee as one of its basic conditions in coalition negotiations.

Bennett tabled his demand apparently after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised the Finance Ministry to Yair Lapid, rather than to Naftali Bennett.

In order to keep our promise of economic reforms and to dismantle the economic centralization, we must be able to eliminate barriers on the way, and the committee is the instrument for that," sources in Habayit Hayehudi said.

At the same time Faina Kirshenbaum of Yisrael Beitenu was also mentioned as a possible candidate for that position.

Likud and Yesh Atid officials were expected Tuesday to step up their demands regarding the coveted education portfolio, another sticking point in negotiations over Israel's new coalition.

"Likud is conducting a campaign against Shai Piron. We will stand strong and insist on the portfolio. If necessary, we will opt for new elections," said a senior official in Yesh Atid. Likud officials also stressed that they do not intend on standing down from their demand for the portfolio.

Sources in the negotiating team said that the option of a rotation is being examined, in which Shai Piron from Yesh Atid and Gideon Sa'ar from Likud will alternate as Education Minister after two years. The officials said that this scenario is unlikely to be accepted, since both parties want the first rotation.

Meanwhile, the tension in Likud surrounding the appointment of ministers to the upcoming government has calmed down somewhat after the announcement that the cabinet will include only 20 ministers. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed to force a non-uniform key on his coalition partners, so that while Lapid (Yesh Atid), Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) and apparently even former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Halikud Beitenu) will receive portfolios based on the key of one minister for every four Knesset seats, Likud will receive portfolios according to a key of 1:3. That means that all the incumbent ministers can continue to serve. The generous key for Likud will probably enable Netanyahu to fill seven ministerial positions with members of his party.

Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett in the Knesset. Credit: Michal Fattal

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