Netanyahu Struggles With Paucity of Portfolios for Likud

PM-designate intends to inform senior figures in Likud Sunday which of them will be ministers.

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu intends to inform senior figures in his party Sunday which of them will be ministers after continuing consultations with his advisers on how to overcome the paucity of portfolios for Likud.

A significant challenge for Netanyahu will be how to avoid a breach with MK Silvan Shalom.

Netanyahu may have to give up the finance portfolio to solve the problem, although sources close to him say he will not give it to Shalom, because he wants to remain central to decisions in the treasury.

However, sources said the Likud head wants to avoid a fight with Shalom.

"Netanyahu does not want war with Silvan," a source said. "He does not want to humiliate him and he's trying to find the formula that will allow him to be a minister."

One idea is that Shalom would be given the post of deputy prime minister with certain responsibilities for foreign affairs, the sources said.

Shalom wanted the position of acting prime minister, but Netanyahu does not want him to have it, the prime minister designate's associates said.

The matter of former chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon is also reportedly bothering Netanyahu.

Netanyahu presented Ya'alon during the election campaign as his proud acquisition for the party and until last week it seemed certain the defense portfolio was in Ya'alon's pocket. The agreement with Labor means Ya'alon will be left even without education, in which he also expressed an interest, but which Netanyahu already promised to MK Gideon Sa'ar.

Netanyahu might reestablish the ministry for strategic affairs that was created for Avigdor Leiberman and closed when the latter left the cabinet.

Ya'alon does not have political clout in Likud, but nevertheless, Netanyahu does not want to leave him as minister without portfolio after spending two years wooing him to the party.

MK Maj. Gen. Yossi Peled is also waiting. Netanyahu had promised him a ministerial post, but he is not even on the list. Netanyahu also has to find positions for MKs Dan Meridor and Benny Begin.

Meridor said he would make do with the post of minister without portfolio.