Celebrations at the Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 17, 2015.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The Likud’s prospective coalition partners need to ease their demands for cabinet portfolios, after the ruling party gained its 30th Knesset seat in the final vote tally, sources close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday.
Netanyahu has already begun the process of forming his next government, which will be composed of the Likud, Kulanu, Bayit Yehudi, Shas, United Torah Judaism, and Yisrael Beytenu. Politicians in the parties have been outdoing one another in their demands for portfolios that have been leaked to the press.
But sources close to Netanyahu said that, following an election where he won a sweeping victory and won three times as many seats as his largest coalition partner, many of the top portfolios would remain with the Likud.
“Everyone has been adopting maximalist positions about portfolios,” a source in the Likud negotiating team said. “What matters is that we will be able to build a coalition that will be more stable because we won 30 seats.”
The source revealed that Netanyahu intends to keep his campaign promise to try to make Israel into a two-party system with a government that would last four years, barring extraordinary circumstances.
Making the leader of the largest party automatically prime minister is also part of Netanyahu’s electoral reform plan.
Likud officials confirmed reports that the prime minister intends to rescind a law passed in the outgoing Knesset limiting the cabinet to 18 ministers. They said Netanyahu intends to raise the limit to 22.
Yisrael Beytenu and Shas are against canceling the law.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid vowed on Facebook to fight what he called corruption and a waste of taxpayer money.
Expanding the cabinet would help Netanyahu deal with the demands for portfolios from inside his party.
At least four Likud MKs have expressed interest in the Foreign Affairs portfolio: Gilad Erdan, Silvan Shalom, Yuval Steinitz, and Tzachi Hanegbi.
“It would be natural for me to receive the senior portfolio, because I am the senior minister,” said Shalom, who held the post under prime minister Ariel Sharon. “I was seen as not too bad a foreign minister. We are facing challengers that will require skills and experience.”
Steinitz said foreign minister is a post that he is fit for.
Hanegbi, who is deputy foreign minister, said he wants to remove “deputy” from his title.
There will also be a fight over the chairmanship of the Knesset Finance Committee.
UTJ intends to insist on receiving it for MK Moshe Gafni, but Kulanu wants to control the committee.
UTJ leader Ya’acov Litzman met on Thursday with Shas chairman Arye Deri to coordinate haredi strategy. Deri also met with Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, who is demanding the Defense portfolio despite falling from 13 Knesset seats to only six.
Meanwhile, Channel 10 reported that the Likud had successfully installed two activists inside the anti-Netanyahu organization V15 to spy on it. A V15 spokesman declined to comment.