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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Will Likud - Bennett - Lapid coalition flounder over Foreign Ministry?

Naftali Bennett has decided he wants to be finance minister. As a former high tech entrepreneur, that might even make sense. But Yair Lapid - a former television show host who was offered the finance ministry - wants to be foreign minister. Not only is he unqualified, but Netanyahu can say to him, 'you and Bennett wouldn't break  your pact - don't expect me to break mine with Lieberman.' Netanyahu has promised to hold the foreign ministry for foreign minister and Yisrael Beiteinu chief Avigdor Lieberman.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett is the leading candidate for Finance Ministry, as Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid did not accept Likud Beytenu's offer of the portfolio Tuesday.
A senior Likud-Beytenu source said that Lapid had been offered the Finance Ministry, and that the party would keep the Foreign Ministry, Lapid's preferred portfolio.
Lapid has yet to give Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu an answer, but sources in his party say he will continue to push for the Foreign Ministry, with the Interior Ministry as his second choice.
No progress was made on coalition negotiations on Tuesday, mainly due to the impasse over the Foreign Ministry and Yesh Atid's demand that there be only 18 Ministries.
The Bayit Yehudi told Likud Beytenu's negotiating team that, despite the pact between the two parties, they have no problem with a larger number of portfolios. [I think that's the first independent thought I've heard from Bennett since the elections ended. CiJ]
Netanyahu is expected to face difficulties selecting ministers within the Likud if the number of ministers decreases to 18, as he seeks a majority for Likud-Beytenu within the government. In such a situation, six or seven Likud MKs and three Yisrael Beytenu MKs would get portfolios, while nine 19th Knesset MKs from the former party and four from the latter are currently ministers.
As part of the agreement between Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi, the two parties are not competing over the same ministries.
Bennett's party has requested that he receive the Finance Ministry and that the Housing and Construction, Transportation and Religious Services portfolios go to Bayit Yehudi, a party source said.
Yesh Atid has asked for Interior, Education, and Communications portfolios, in addition to the Foreign Ministry for Lapid.
The battle for the Education Ministry is expected to be rough, since current minister Gideon Sa'ar, who came in first place in the Likud primary, hopes to remain in his seat.
 What could go wrong?

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