Likud Official: Lapid was Offered Finance Ministry

Yair Lapid was offered the position of Finance Minister in the new government but has yet to respond to the offer, says Likud.

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Yair Lapid
Yair Lapid
Hezki Ezra

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid was offered the position of Finance Minister in the new government but has yet to respond to the offer, an official in the Likud/Yisrael Beytenu said Tuesday.

The official said that in case Lapid rejects the offer, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will offer him the Interior Ministry instead. In any case, however, Lapid will not be offered the position of Foreign Minister, despite his desire to be appointed to that position, because Netanyahu is saving that portfolio for Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Lieberman.

Likud officials were quick to state that Lapid had been offered the Finance Ministry after rumors circulated on Tuesday that Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett was the one to whom the position of Finance Minister was offered by Netanyahu.

Sources in Bayit Yehudi did not confirm the report, but said that there has not been any coordination between their party and Yesh Atid regarding which party would seek which ministry.

The Bayit Yehudi said on Tuesday evening that despite rumors that had circulated that it was set to sign a coalition deal with the Likud in the coming hours or days, that no deals has been signed, and nothing has yet been concluded.

Meanwhile, a Channel 10 News report on Tuesday said that Netanyahu had agreed that the outline for enlistment of hareidi yeshiva students drafted by Lapid and Bennett would be enacted into law, scoring another victory for the Bayit Yehudi-Yesh Atid pact.

The proposal will impose a quota on the number of yeshiva students who are exempt from army service. However, instead of 400 exemptions as Lapid had previously demanded, the quota will be extended to 1,500 to 2,000 students.

In addition, the outline calls for the draft for hareidim to be deferred until the age of 21 at the latest. The Lapid-Bennett outline is similar to the one proposed by former Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner last year. Kadima quit Netanyahu’s coalition when it failed to push Plesner’s outline through.

The next hurdle that the sides need to pass, according to Channel 10, is the number of ministers in the government.

Lapid has indicated that he would not be part of a coalition that will include more than 20 ministers and would insist on enacting a law that stipulates that a government will not include more than 18 ministers. On the other hand, the Likud/Yisrael Beytenu is asking for no less than 25 ministers.