Netanyahu Signs Deal With Yesh Atid and Jewish Home to Form New Government
by Zach Pontz
Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-Beiteinu party inked a coalition deal with Yesh Atid and the Jewish Home party Friday, bringing to an end negotiations to form a new government that had been ongoing for more than a month.
“The new government will work together in full cooperation for the benefit of the entire Israeli public. We will act to strengthen the state of Israel’s security and to improve the quality of life of its citizens,” said Netanyahu in a statement.
“We promised during elections to take care of the cost of living, to increase competition in the marketplace and to restore to the state its Jewish soul, and now we’ve got the tools to do it,” Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett said, according to the Times of Israel.
The coalition agreement seemed imminent Wednesday, but there were hangups over Bennett receiving the title of deputy prime minister. Bennett and Lapid ultimately both agreed to give up the title which was promised to them during the talks.
According to Jewish Home’s agreement with Likud, Bennett will be the chairman of the Ministerial Committee on the Cost of Living and the Committee on Increasing Competitiveness in the Economy. Additionally, his party will also chair the joint Committee to Equalize the Burden.
The party will receive five ministries: Economy and Trade; Housing; Pensioners Affairs; Religious Affairs and Diaspora Affairs and Public Diplomacy.
For Yesh Atid, Lapid will be Finance Minister and candidates for the Interior Ministry Meir Cohen and Yael German will be Welfare Minister and Health Minister, respectively. Ya’akov Peri will be Science Minister and Ofer Shelach will be Deputy Defense Minister.
Shai Piron of Yesh Atid will be Education Minister, while the Likud’s Gideon Sa’ar will be Interior Minister. The government will have 22 ministers, including Netanyahu.
Tzipi Livni, who heads the fourth coalition partner Hatnua, will serve as Justice Minister in the new government and Hatnua’s Amir Peretz will receive the Environment portfolio.
Netanyahu is expected to formally notify President Shimon Peres on Saturday night — the final day of the six weeks allocated to him — that he has formed a new government. The coalition will comprise four parties: Likud-Beiteinu (31 seats), Yesh Atid (19), Jewish Home (12) and Hatnua (6), for a total of 68 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.