After four hours of deliberations on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid, Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett and Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman agreed that the next government will consist of 20 ministers and eight deputy ministers, not including the prime minister.
Yesh Atid sources confirmed that once Lieberman returns to the Foreign Ministry, the cabinet will consist of 21 ministers. Throughout the coalition negotiations Lapid's party has demanded that the number of cabinet members be reduced.
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At the start of the last Knesset, the government had 31 ministers (including Netanyahu) and nine deputy ministers. Currently the government is comprised of 29 ministers and seven deputy ministers.
Likud agreed to significantly reduce the number of ministers on the condition that most of the ministers would be from the ruling party.
Yair Lapid (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
The Kadima faction, which won two Knesset seats in the January elections, will receive one ministerial portfolio.
Attorney David Shomron said following the negotiations at the Prime Minister's Office, "All the issues are behind us, apart from the issue related to the allocation of ministerial portfolios."
Bennett leaving the Prime Minister's Office (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Likud wants to keep the education portfolio in the hands of Minister Gideon Sa'ar. Sources within the ruling party claim handing it over to Yesh Atid would create a problem vis-à-vis the haredi education system.
"Likud insists on keeping the Education portfolio. The ministry, headed by Gideon Sa'ar, made great strides in the last four years. The prime minister is interested in continuing the success of Israeli students, as was well evidenced by their scores in international testing," a Likud official said.
The sides recently reached a deal according to which Lapid will get the finance portfolio, while Bennett will be named Israel's next Labor, Trade and Industry minister.
Reports regarding the possibility that the number of ministers would be reduced angered several Likud members who were ranked high on the party's Knesset roster following the primary elections and expected to be promoted to ministerial posts. The frustrated Likud MKs, including Miri Regev, Danny Danon and Tzipi Hotovely, even discussed the possibility of boycotting the swearing-in ceremony of Israel's 33rd government.
"The primary election results must be taken into account," one of the Likud lawmakers said.
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