Likud, Bayit Yehudi expected to engage in tense portfolio bartering

Bayit Yehudi officials threatened Monday to return to Rivlin and rescind recommendation of Netanyahu to form a government.

March 31, 2015 03:39
2 minute read.
Netanyahu and Bennett

Netanyahu and Bennett. (photo credit: REUTERS,MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Coalition negotiating teams of the Likud and Bayit Yehudi are to meet at the Knesset Tuesday amid tension between the parties over the portfolio that Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett wants for himself in the next government.

Bennett wants to be defense or foreign minister, citing a conversation he had with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which he was promised a senior portfolio.

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But Likud officials said that conversation took place when Bayit Yehudi trailed the Likud in the polls by five seats, long before the Likud won 30 and Bayit Yehudi only eight.

Bayit Yehudi officials expressed frustration with Netanyahu for not discussing portfolios with Bennett when they met one-on-one twice. Instead Bayit Yehudi relayed to the Likud’s coalition negotiating team that it was demanding Defense for Bennett, as well as the Education and Religious Affairs portfolios. Likud officials have not responded to the offer other than to laugh at it in private conversations.

Bayit Yehudi officials threatened Monday to return to President Reuven Rivlin and rescind their recommendation of Netanyahu to form a government.

The Likud called the threat “too pathetic for a serious response.”

Netanyahu told his Likud faction Monday that although he wanted to complete building the government quickly, his experience has taught him that it will only be possible just ahead of the May 6 deadline.

A Likud spokeswoman reported progress in talks with United Torah Judaism that took place Monday.

According to one UTJ source, negotiations are intensive and ongoing, unlike with the other parties which are slower, he said.

“There is a sense that the Likud negotiating team wants to complete an agreement with the haredi parties first,” the source said. “UTJ’s demands are pretty straightforward, although it’s not certain yet whether or not they will be accepted.”

The Likud and UTJ negotiations teams have met four times so far, and there is definitely an intention to finish things off quickly he added, saying however, that he doubted negotiations would be completed this week.

A spokesman for senior UTJ MK Moshe Gafni who is, together with MKs Ya’acov Litzman and Meir Porush, leading the party’s negotiations, said that the team is remaining tight-lipped as to the details of their demands, especially those pertaining to controversial issues such as ultra-Orthodox military enlistment and the new Conversion Reform Law that is loathed by the haredi leadership.

The spokesman said that it is possible that UTJ will not include changing the conscription law in the coalition negotiations as a condition for entering the government, but will instead work to enact legislation on removing the clause legally requiring haredi men to serve in the IDF once the government is established.

Netanyahu has himself indicated on several occasions that he would support such as step.

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