|Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem/ The Jerusalem Post|
Likud: Deal with Bennett can be made immediately
By LAHAV HARKOV
Officials from both parties say deal is likely to be signed in coming days; former settler leader Ariel to be given Housing portfolio.
Likud Beytenu and the Bayit Yehudi are likely to sign a coalition agreement in
the coming days, sources in both parties said on Tuesday.
The final deal
is likely to give the Construction and Housing portfolio to MK Uri Ariel (Bayit
Yehudi), a former Yesha Council secretary-general, which could allow for
expansion of settlements, even though during the election campaign Likud Beytenu
said it would keep the ministry for itself.
While the two parties have
not yet discussed portfolios, Likud sources said the party plans to offer the
Housing Ministry to Ariel, who is second on the Bayit Yehudi list and leader of
its negotiating team. Likud Beytenu has previously leaked offers to the press
before relaying them directly to the Bayit Yehudi.
The two parties plan
to meet on Wednesday, following a meeting that lasted from Monday night until 3
a.m. Tuesday in which “significant progress was reached in a long line of
issues,” according to a Likud spokeswoman.
“The Likud believes we can
finish the negotiations for Bayit Yehudi to join the government led by Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu immediately,” she added.
Bayit Yehudi is also
expected to present its plan for equality in the burden of national service on
Wednesday, which a Likud source said the party is likely to adopt.
source close to the Bayit Yehudi negotiating team said that the party’s plan for
haredi enlistment was coordinated with Yesh Atid, and that the agreement between
the two parties is still strong.
However, a Yesh Atid spokesman said “all
options are open” when it comes to coalition or opposition, and it seems that Yair Lapid’s party is preparing for the latter
Lapid made an appointment with Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On
for next week, indicating that he will go head-to-head with Labor chairwoman
Shelly Yacimovich for the position of opposition leader.
leader automatically goes to the head of the largest party outside of the
government, which would be Lapid if he stays out of the coalition, a majority of
MKs in the opposition can vote in a different leader.
met with opposition party leaders to ask for their support.
spokeswoman said she is inclined to support Yacimovich for the position, but
will discuss the matter with the Meretz faction.
Arab parties are also
likely to back the Labor leader, especially after Lapid coined the term “Zoabis”
to describe Arab MKs, referencing controversial Balad MK Haneen Zoabi. The Yesh
Atid leader apologized for the comment earlier this month.
Tuesday, Channel 2 released a poll showing that, if a new election were held,
Likud Beytenu would still win, with 28 seats, but with an even smaller margin
over Yesh Atid, which would get 24 seats.
The Bayit Yehudi would gain two
seats to get 14 altogether, while Shas and Meretz would go up one each, to 12
and seven, respectively.
The Tzipi Livni Party would lose half of its
seats, getting only three, and Labor would lose three and have 12.
Torah Judaism (7), Hadash (4), UAL-Ta’al (4), Balad (3) and Kadima (2) would
remain the same, according to the Channel 2 poll.