A coalition agreement between the Likud and Blue and White parties will be finalized no later than Friday afternoon, sources from both parties said on Thursday evening.
A deal must be reached by Friday to enable parties in the coalition to bring the agreement to their institutions on Sunday and allow a vote in the Knesset to approve the government on Monday. The Knesset does not meet during the Passover holiday that begins on Wednesday evening and Gantz's mandate to form a government – and the leverage that comes with it – ends during the holiday.
Progress was made between the two parties as they both made compromises on disputed portfolios.
"I feel the negotiations with the Likud are about to be completed," said Blue and White MK Chili Tropper who is close to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz.
Likud agreed to let the Justice Ministry go to Blue and White faction chairman Avi Nissenkorn. Blue and White accepted the appointment of the Likud's Miri Regev as internal security minister.
Blue and White agreed to give up the Foreign Ministry, which Netanyahu reportedly wants to give to former Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein of Likud but could still end up going to Yamina leader Naftali Bennett. In return, Likud gave up the Education portfolio, which will go to Blue and White MK Gabi Ashkenazi.
The Foreign Ministry would be a good consolation prize for Edelstein, who lost his post as Knesset speaker after leading the Likud's fight against the Supreme Court. It would free the speaker post for Likud minister Yariv Levin, who is close to Netanyahu and heads the Likud's coalition negotiating team.
Yamina threatened to stay out of the coalition if it does not receive the Education portfolio. Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked said in a Channel 12 interview that if Yamina was not included in the coalition, the party would be a "fighting right-wing opposition" to Netanyahu's government
"We are not part of the game of musical chairs between Netanyahu and Gantz," Yamina said in a fierce official statement. We don't intend to be a fig leaf in a left-wing government that gave away the Justice Ministry and will end chances of expressing sovereignty over Judea and Samaria."
Among the party's goals if it goes into the opposition, the statement listed fighting corruption in bold.
Sources close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Likud made an offer to Yamina, but Yamina's demand of four ministers for six MKs was unrealistic.
Yesh Atid said fighting corruption should not depend on whether a party is in the coalition and that if Yamina joins Netanyahu's government, it would be part of his corruption.