Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yamina leader Naftali Bennett spoke on the phone Wednesday and failed to reach an agreement on the religious Zionist party's entry to the coalition ahead of the new government's inauguration on Thursday.
Netanyahu offered Bennett the education and Jerusalem and heritage portfolios, as well as a deputy minister post overseeing issues vis-a-vis the religious-Zionist community, and chairing a Knesset committee.
“The decision is Netanyahu’s,” Bennett wrote on Twitter. “As I have said from the beginning, we are only interested in entering a government where we would have influence, and influence comes from the issues for which we would be responsible. If the prime minister wants us in positions of influence, we would be happy to enter; but if he wants us weak and on the fringes, we would rather be in the opposition.”
Likud responded that Netanyahu had improved his offer to Bennett, but Bennett only cared about cabinet posts rather than ideology. Yamina denied receiving an improved offer.
Tensions between the two escalated further after Netanyahu on Tuesday gave the health portfolio, which Bennett coveted, to Likud MK Yuli Edelstein.
“Netanyahu slammed the door on our entry to the government,” a Yamina source was quoted as saying in a party statement. “He looked for the perfect way to humiliate Yamina and its voters and succeeded in this.”