|Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post|
Likud sources: PM offered Bennett top jobs
By GIL HOFFMAN
Source says offer conditioned on Bayit Yehudi becoming first party to join coalition; Bayit Yehudi accuses Likud of political spin.
Likud Beytenu offered Bayit Yehudi the Education Ministry, a top socioeconomic
portfolio, and a deputy defense minister who would deal with settlements, Likud
sources said on Tuesday.
A Likud source said the offer was conditioned on
Bayit Yehudi conducting marathon coalition talks over 48 hours to become the
first party to join the coalition.
The source said the offer was an
upgrade over what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu offered Bayit Yehudi
chairman Naftali Bennett when he met with him on Monday.
“We made a
generous offer we hope they will accept,” a Likud official said.
meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
in Jerusalem, Bennett was asked whether he was offered the Education
He said, “No, we’re not talking jobs or positions
The coalition structure is unclear. First you decide who’s in the
government and then you decide who does what.”
Bayit Yehudi sources
vigorously denied receiving such an offer, calling it political spin from the
Likud. They said Netanyahu was trying to leak false reports to the press in an
effort to pressure Bennett to make compromises.
Channel 2 reported that
the Likud offered Bayit Yehudi control over the Religious Services Ministry in
addition the Education portfolio.
“Netanyahu is trying to break the
understandings we have reached with Yesh Atid, but he will not
succeed," a source in the party said.
The prime minister has an
interest in breaking the bond between Bennett and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid,
because it has made it much more difficult for him to form a coalition. As long
as the bond in tact, Netanyahu cannot form a coalition without either
Bennett told the delegation of the Conference of Presidents of
Major American Jewish Organizations that although he and Lapid did not agree on
everything, there was a common denominator between them on issues such as
equalizing the burden of military service, expanding national service and the
need for a strong economy.
He also mocked Shas for judging him based on
the size of his kippa and said he respected Netanyahu.
“There is a rare,
once in a generation opportunity to form a coalition that will change the shape
of things here,” Bennett said.
Coalition negotiating teams from Likud
Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi met on Tuesday to discuss how to equalize the burden of
IDF service. MK Uri Ariel, who heads Bayit Yehudi’s negotiating team, said
following the meeting that his party had doubts and questions about the Likud’s
plan, but Likud negotiator David Shimron defended it.
“The plan would
substantially equalize the burden of service in a reasonable way without setting
limits [on the number of haredim who stay in yeshiva],” Shimron told reporters
at Ramat Gan’s Kfar Maccabiah Hotel after the meeting.
But a Yesh Atid
official called the Likud plan worse than the much-maligned, expired “Tal Law,”
which was supposed to facilitate haredi enlistment but did not succeed as much
as intended. The official said his party was ready to compromise on how to
equalize the burden of service, but it had not received a serious proposal from
the Likud to counter the plan of Yesh Atid.
Shas co-chairman Eli Yishai
lashed out at Netanyahu, telling Army Radio that his sense was that the prime
minister preferred to form a government with Yesh Atid and not Shas. He also
“Lapid himself simply doesn’t want to serve [in the
coalition] with us, and nothing will convince him otherwise,” Yishai
Jeremy Sharon and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.