T. Belman. The allocation of portfolios is a big deal. Big enough to create big pressure to find an alternative to what is being touted. Afterall, the right block is only 3 mandates short of forming a government yet the center left get half the portfolios. Its not right.
Netanyahu, Gantz meet all night then fight all day.
By Gill Hoffman, JPOST MARCH 29, 2020 23:29
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the nation on the coronavirus outbreak, March 19, 2020 (photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz met from 10:30pm on Saturday night to 6:30am on Sunday morning and reported that they had made “significant progress” in a joint statement, vowing to meet again later Sunday to finalize an agreement on a new government.
But that meeting never ended up happening, as leaks about possible portfolios made each side harden their positions as they faced both public pressure and complaints from inside their parties and blocs.
They still talked about issuing a joint statement on Monday, but it appeared increasingly likely late Sunday that a new government would not be sworn in until next week.
Netanyahu spoke on the phone with the leaders of his right-wing bloc on Sunday evening and made it clear that the preservation of his camp was more important than ever during efforts to establish a unity government. He tried to calm down the leaders by saying that many of the reports regarding portfolios were “fake news.”
Gantz’s associates also said on Sunday night that with rare exceptions “we have not even started allocating ministers yet.”
Such appointments will only be able to be made once it is final what portfolios will be going to which party, and that process could not be completed on Sunday due to several key, ongoing disputes. Gantz gave in on replacing Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) but held tough on other posts.
The main fights were over who would be Knesset speaker, justice minister and public security minister. Blue and White ruled out Yuli Edelstein for Knesset speaker, due to his dispute with the Supreme Court, and then did not like to hear that he would be replaced by Yariv Levin, who is an even harsher critic of the legal establishment.
The Likud did not like the idea of Blue and White faction chairman Avi Nissenkorn becoming justice minister and Blue and White criticized the possibility that Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev would be in charge of police.
Likud ministers were angry that not enough portfolios were left for Netanyahu’s party, leaving open the future of key Likud figures like Edelsein, Gilad Erdan, Gideon Sa’ar, Nir Barkat and Yoav Galant.
Yamina demanded three ministerial positions, including at least one senior position for current Defense Minister Naftali Bennett. Yamina protested the fact that the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties retained the same electoral power they had in the previous government, while they were required to compromise.
Transport Minister Bezalel Smotrich of Yamina tweeted on Sunday afternoon against “too much power” expected to be given to Blue and White party in the next cabinet.
The deal they are working on calls for Netanyahu and Gantz to rotate as prime minister, with the latter taking over in October 2021 and there being 34 ministers. Netanyahu would be vice prime miniser when he completes his term and stay in charge of relations with the US and Russia.
Gantz will reportedly start off as defense minister and MK Gabi Ashkenazi as foreign minister. Ashkenazi will be defense minister when Gantz becomes prime minister.
The justice minister will be an MK from Blue and White after outsiders were considered for the post. Blue and White will also get the Economy, Welfare, Culture, Communications, Agriculture, Absorption, Tourism, Minorities, and Science and Technology portfolios.
The Likud gave Blue and White the Defense portfolio for the whole term in return for controlling the Knesset speaker post the full term.
Netanyahu’s party will keep the Finance, Internal Security Transportation, Energy, Construction and Environment portfolios.
Multiple media outlets reported that Labor MKs Amir Peretz and Itzik Shmuli are joining the government. Their spokespeople did not confirm the reports.
Alex Winston contributed to this report