Current Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, at the center of the storm that has stalled coalition negotiations for days, on Wednesday expressed his own views on whether he should remain in the post.
The controversy centers on a dispute between Likud Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who wants Sa’ar to retain the portfolio, and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, who is demanding the post for his Number Two, Rabbi Shai Piron.
Neither is willing to back down, with Netanyahu insisting that Sa’ar has done a good job and that consistency in the area of education is important – and Lapid demanding the ministry be given to his party as part of a general coalition agreement.
“The idea of rotation in the education portfolio is a bad idea, and if it is implemented will negatively affect the Israeli education system,” Sa’ar agreed.
“The education system, more than any other, needs continuity, continuity and consistency of policy in regards to directions and goals. Rotation is not the right idea in general, and in particular is not a correct idea for the education portfolio,” he said. Sa'ar is seen as having turned in a good performance during his term as education minister, having effected positive changes in the school system in cooperation with the teacher's unions.
According to a report broadcast earlier this week on Israel's Channel 10 television, Netanyahu has offered to rotate the Education Ministry between Sa'ar and Yesh Atid, but Lapid has rejected this deal. The report added that Netanyahu is determined not to concede on this point – but because he must present a government by the weekend, the prime minister is reviewing all his options.
Netanyahu told Lapid he was giving him until Wednesday to work out all the outstanding issues and sign a coalition agreement. If he does not do so, Netanyahu warned that he would turn to Shas and United Torah Judaism for help in forming a government.