The Jerusalem Post

Shaked touted as FM in Netanyahu-led government


The Likud is prepared to give both the Defense and Foreign Affairs portfolios to the Yamina Party if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forms the next government, sources in the Likud said on Thursday.

Negotiatin­g teams of Likud and Yamina met for some three hours on Tuesday, and multiple sources familiar with talks said the Likud offered the Defense portfolio for Yamina leader Naftali Bennett and the Foreign Affairs portfolio for MK Ayelet Shaked.

Shaked speaks English well, and regularly dealt with internatio­nal relations when she was justice minister and a member of Netanyahu’s security cabinet.

“Ayelet would do any post well,” said a source close to Shaked, but that “we are still not talking about portfolios.”

Yamina said the reports about the posts offered to the party were “incorrect.”

Netanyahu, who has a mandate to form a government until May 4, hopes to finalize coalition agreements with Yamina, Shas and United Torah Judaism next week. He will then focus on pressuring Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich to join the government as education minister, instead of enabling a government in which the Education portfolio could end up going to Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz.

If Netanyahu fails to form a government by May 4, President Reuven Rivlin will likely give the mandate to Bennett to build a 62-MK coalition with Yesh Atid, Blue and White, New Hope, Labor, Yisrael Beytenu, Meretz and Ra’am (United Arab List).

It is possible that if Netanyahu fails to form a government, United Torah Judaism, or at least the four MKs of Degel Hatorah, would join a Bennett-led coalition, which would then not require the support of Ra’am.

UTJ MK Yakov Asher told the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) radio station Kol Chai on Thursday that before the end of Netanyahu’s mandate, his party would “have to reevaluate the situation.”

Smotrich sent a letter to Netanyahu and New Hope chairman Gideon Sa’ar on Wednesday urging them to compromise on a new government together that would not rely on Ra’am.

“I promise in advance to support any arrangemen­t that you reach,” Smotrich said in the letter. “It is in your hands. Save the State of Israel. Do not miss this moment.”

At an Independen­ce Day rally on the ruins of the demolished Sa-Nur settlement in the northern Samaria region of the West Bank, Smotrich vowed never to join any government dependent on Israeli Arab parties.

He clarified that he rejected any formula that involved Ra’am or the Joint List, including a Netanyahu plan to form a government dependent on Ra’am from outside the coalition.

“I am saying this unequivoca­lly and without any hesitation,” Smotrich said. “I am announcing here, in this place, in Sa-Nur, that we will oppose anyone who thinks he is forming a government that will make the State of Israel dependent on enemies and supporters of terrorism. To our sorrow, we are speaking of parties of enemies that support terror and that reject our existence here. They are not a legitimate partner.

“This is the most pragmatic stance in the world. When one understand­s the short- and long-term implicatio­ns of having the government dependent on them,” then they would know “that this can never happen.”

Smotrich called instead for all the parties of the national camp to unite and form a government, thereby breathing into existence a stable right-wing coalition.

Once that happens, Smotrich said, he would include a demand that Israel rebuild Sa-Nur and the three other

northern Samaria settlement­s that were destroyed in 2005 as part of prime minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagem­ent plan.

Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, himself an evacuee of Sa-Nur, called on Netanyahu and the right-wing parties to place rebuilding the four demolished communitie­s at the top of the next government’s agenda.

“This mistake can be corrected,” said Dagan. “The Jewish people live. The Jewish people will be victorious and return to northern Samaria.”

(Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
AYELET SHAKED (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

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