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Bennett and Lapid eye Finance portfolio
ByJPOST.COM STAFF
March 5, 2013 19:31
Conflicting reports emerge simultaneously that both the Yesh Atid leader and Bayit Yehudi chair have been offered Finance Ministry.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett

Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett 370. (photo credit:Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)

Conflicting reports emerged simultaneously on Tuesday that coalition allies Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett had both been offered the Finance Ministry.

A senior Likud official said that Lapid had been offered the Finance portfolio and added that Likud-Beytenu will keep the Foreign Ministry



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Meanwhile, sources from the Bayit Yehudi party said that the chances that Bennett would become Finance Minister were increasing, according to a Channel 10 report. However, Bennett's office denied the reports and said that such an arrangement had not yet been agreed upon. The report cited sources from Yesh Atid, which is coordinating with Bayit Yehudi in coalition talks, as saying they would not be surprised if Bennett gets the Finance Ministry portfolio.

The recent developments made clearer the likely makeup of the top tier of ministries in the next government, with Bennett or Lapid as Finance Minister, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) likely to be Defense Minister and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu holding the Foreign Ministry for Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, who is currently facing a corruption trial.

Ya'alon has long been the leading candidate for the Defense Ministry, as he has the best credentials in the Knesset except for Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, whose party is most likely too small for him to take the portfolio. 

On Monday, Bennett expressed optimism about the formation of the next coalition in a faction meeting, while Lapid warned of possible surprises.

Meanwhile, Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich insisted that she will remain in the opposition, despite efforts by haredi parties to convince her otherwise.

Bennett opened the Bayit Yehudi faction meeting by describing a hiking trip he took recently and the greenery he saw.

“The political field is also moving from winter to spring. That is the source of a good atmosphere and a lot of goodwill to form a government,” he stated.

The Bayit Yehudi leader’s optimism may stem from Likud Beytenu’s support for his party’s demand that Bennett be the next finance minister.

Channel 10 news reported that Likud Beytenu would have no problem with Bennett taking that post, as the two parties have similar stances on economic issues.

Bennett added that his party is “rolling up its sleeves” to help the prime minister form the widest coalition possible.
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