Netanyahu to begin talks on coalition policies, ministerial appointments

Close allies of the incoming premier competing for Justice Ministry, Finance Ministry and Knesset speaker roll, while demands of coalition partners may crush their hopes; some senior Likud members organize to face leader with demands

Moran Azulay |
Prime minister elect Benjamin Netanyahu will on Sunday begin discussions with his party members and potential coalition partners, in the hopes of forming a government after his bloc won a 64-seat majority in the Knesset in the elections.
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  • On the agenda will be drawing up the coalition guidelines for the new government's policies.
    3 View gallery
     Benjamin Netanyahu (center) with Likud allies
     Benjamin Netanyahu (center) with Likud allies
    Benjamin Netanyahu (center) with Likud allies
    (Avi Moalem, Avi Chai, Kobi Koankes, Hadar Yoavian )
    Before he hears the demands of the ultra-Orthodox parties and his senior partners in the Religious Zionist party, Netanyahu will face his own Likud members who themselves are competing for ministries and senior positions.
    One of the main points in dispute among the coalition members, is who will control the Justice Ministry, after election promises to revamp the judicial system, accused of trumping up corruption charges against Netanyahu.
    Likud legislator David Amsalem has indicated he would accept no position other than justice minister. But Amsalem faces a battle with other Netanyahu allies within his party, including Amir Ohana who had already served in the roll in Netanyahu's previous government. Another contender is former Knesset speaker Yariv Levine.
    Former Finance Minister Israel Katz is demanding to return to his old post and stated so publicly at the end of last week.
    3 View gallery
    ישראל כץ
    ישראל כץ
    Israel Katz
    (Photo: Kobi Koankes)
    "I spoke to the incoming prime minister and asked to return to the Finance Ministry, and the position I held during the challenging coronavirus pandemic," Katz said in a statement.
    "After the damage caused by Avigdor Liberman in the outgoing government, causing inflation and the rise in housing prices and the cost of living, the economy is in need of an experienced minister who can operate with the ministry's public servants and with international partners," he wrote.
    But Katz too faces competition from another former Likud minister, Eli Cohen who had won the most support in the party's primary elections, and from former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat who was promised the job by Netanyahu.
    The Defense Ministry may be given to the leader of the Religious Zionists party, Likud's main coalition partner. It may also remain in the hands of the Likud where retired general Yoav Galant may compete with Avi Dichter who also has a security background from his days in the leadership of Shin Bet.
    The position of Knesset speaker is another coveted posting with former Israeli ambassador to the U.N., Danny Danon having already announced he hoped to be appointed to the job. Danon said there was no other position he would consider.
    But if Levine does not receive the Justice Ministry, he may be appeased by returning to his former roll as speaker, and Ofir Akunis, another Netanyahu loyalist has been working behind the scenes to canvass for the same position and former coalition whip David Bitan, also sees himself as a contender.
    Ynet reported on Friday, that senior Likud members were organizing to ensure Netanyahu delivers sought after ministries and position to them. Among the members are Bitan, Katz and Amsalem.
    3 View gallery
    דוד ביטן
    דוד ביטן
    David Bitan
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch )
    Meanwhile the only woman in the Likud's top list, Miri Regev was eyeing the Foreign Ministry that would have gone to her, had Netanyahu's last government not dissolved. Although she may be offered a return to the Transportation Ministry if other Netanyahu allies are chosen for the job, or perhaps Netanyahu himself would hold on to the position.
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