As President Shimon Peres began the process of discussing with political parties
whom to appoint to form the next government, parties recommending Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu began to discuss which ministries they want.
Beytenu and Yesh Atid, the two largest lists with 31 and 19 seats in the 19th
Knesset, respectively, recommended Netanyahu to Peres, as 30 more MKs from Bayit
Yehudi, Shas and United Torah Judaism are expected to do on
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who headed the joint Likud
Beytenu delegation that met with Peres, recommended that he call on Netanyahu to
assemble the next government because Likud Beytenu received more votes than any
“It is clear that only one man, Binyamin Netanyahu, can form
a government, and we want that government to be as broad and stable as
possible,” Sa’ar said.
“We want a coalition as wide and as stable as
possible to meet the challenges ahead,” Environmental Protection Minister Gilad
Erdan said before meeting with Peres together with fellow Likud Beytenu
ministers and MKs – Sa’ar, Yuval Steinitz, Ze’ev Elkin, Robert Ilatov and David
Matters that were raised in discussion between the president and the delegation
included the incoming government’s political platform, Iran, the economy, the
budget, and equalizing the burden of national service.
The Yesh Atid
party delegation, led by Yair Lapid, spent more time with Peres than Likud
Beytenu did, and recommended Netanyahu.
Lapid said that in the past,
parties would negotiate and debate over whom they would recommend to the
president, but he told Peres that it was part of the Yesh Atid platform that the
largest party should form the next government.
The Yesh Atid chairman
reiterated other aspects of the platform, such as eliminating ministers without
portfolio, that everyone should play their part in service to the state and that
negotiations in the peace process should resume.
After his speech, in an
unprecedented move, Lapid went back to the President’s Residence and dined with
Peres for more than an hour.
Sources in Yesh Atid said that, in addition
to either the Finance or Foreign portfolio for Lapid, they would ask for the
Construction and Housing Ministry, and for the Education Ministry for Rabbi Shai
Piron, who is second on the Yesh Atid list.
In addition, Yesh Atid plans
to demand the chairmanship of the Knesset Finance Committee, the conduit through
which all government spending decisions must pass.
The committee is one
of the most important in the Knesset, together with Foreign Affairs and Defense,
and is often led by a UTJ MK, most recently Moshe Gafni.
A Yesh Atid
source explained that if the Finance Committee had a haredi chairman, he would
have the power to block reforms the new government wishes to instate.
senior UTJ source responded to the rumors, saying he doubted it would happen,
because Yesh Atid would receive several ministries.
“Since we don’t take
ministerial positions [for ideological reasons], we ask for deputy ministerial
posts and chairmanship of important Knesset committees.
Other than the
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the most important is the Finance
Committee, which is especially important regarding the allocation of budgets,”
the source explained.
UTJ plans to ask for the deputy health minister and
deputy education minister positions, which it held in the last
Shas repeated on Wednesday that ministerial demands were not a
condition for it entering the government, and a party source added that there
had not yet been serious discussions on portfolios.
Rather, Shas is
working on the principles for joint coalition negotiations with
Meanwhile, Bayit Yehudi has a long list of ministries it would
accept. Foremost in its demands are either Interior or Justice, which are in the
second tier of prestigious ministries after the sought-after Defense, Foreign
and Finance portfolios.
“Bayit Yehudi should be able to get one of them
as the second- largest coalition partner,” a party source said. “We prefer the
Justice Ministry – especially for Uri Ariel, [second on the list], since he
talked about it throughout the campaign.”
The party also plans to ask for
the Construction and Housing Ministry, though the source admitted competition
was tight, with Likud Beytenu and Yesh Atid asking for the portfolio, as well as
Education and Religious Services, which the latter is also likely to
“Lapid can’t take the Foreign Ministry and Housing and
He can’t have all the senior portfolios. He’ll have to learn
to be flexible,” the Bayit Yehudi source added.
Bayit Yehudi is facing
internal fighting over who will be appointed minister. Depending on the final
coalition agreement, the party is expected to get three or four portfolios, the
first two of which will go to party chairman Naftali Bennett and
Avi Wortzman, eighth on the Bayit Yehudi list, announced at a
meeting of all the party’s MKs that he should be a minister, because of his
experience as deputy mayor of Beersheba, but others in the party prefer former
and incoming MK Nissan Slomianksy or current MK Uri Orbach.
The 10 other
parties in the 19th Knesset will meet with Peres on Thursday.
Meretz, Hadash, United Arab List-Ta’al and Balad are not expected to recommend
anyone, while Kadima plans to recommend Netanyahu.
The Tzipi Livni Party
had not yet reached a decision on Wednesday afternoon, and is unlikely to
On Wednesday evening, Peres said an election
campaign in its style and content was a lesson in national democracy, after
receiving the official results of the elections for the 19th Knesset from
Central Elections Committee chairman Justice Elyakim Rubinstein.
said that now that he had the official results, he could begin consultations
with the political parties and hear their recommendations for prime
He hoped that the person whom he tasks with forming a
government will agree to take the challenge. Peres explained that the law
stipulated that he must enter into consultations with the parties before making
“I am fully aware of my responsibilities in this regard,”
he said. “This is a very heavy responsibility and I intend to carry it out in
full accordance with the law to facilitate a government that represents the will
of the people. I see this as both a duty and a privilege.”
said he was very pleased with the campaign that had been conducted to urge the
public to exercise its right to vote, and although the turnout did not reach the
70 percent it targeted, 68 percent was certainly a sign of
Rubinstein regretted that during the election campaign there
had been certain incidents of racism that he termed a red warning
“There is no room for racism in Israel, which became a sovereign
state after the Holocaust,” he said.