Netanyahu Starts Coalition Negotiations with Bloc Leaders
i24 News – Israel’s incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the leaders of his allied right-wing and religious bloc on Sunday in Jerusalem for talks on forming the country’s next government.
Netanyahu is expected to form a cabinet that will include the heads of ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties as well as the far-right Jewish Power – currently a part of the Religious Zionism party – whose leader Itamar Ben-Gvir is currently in Eilat and will meet the future prime minister later on Monday.
According to a statement issued by Netanyahu’s office on Saturday, the meetings were aimed at an “alignment of interests” as the official coalition negotiations can only be held after President Isaac Herzog formally asks Netanyahu, who heads the right-wing Likud party, to form a government, which should happen within a week. Prior to that, Herzog has to consult with all elected parties.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu’s bloc won a total of 64 seats out of 120 in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. According to media reports, the incoming prime minister promised Shas leader Aryeh Deri a ministerial position of his choice while offering Betzalel Smotrich, head of Religious Zionism, a role of Education Minister or Justice Minister. Meanwhile, other sources suggest that Likud party members are eyeing the Justice Ministry as well as the Finance Ministry positions.
Earlier on Thursday, sources told i24NEWS that Ben-Gvir wouldn’t become Internal Security Minister, despite Netanyahu repeatedly saying that it was possible that the right-wing leader could become a minister in his cabinet. Throughout his election campaign Ben-Gvir pledged that he would “restore security” to the Jewish state.