Coalition Deal Seen as Great Achievement for Religious Zionism
The coalition agreement that will send Israel's 33rd government on its way is to be signed Wednesday night, sources in the Likud/Yisrael Beiteinu said, and it appears to be a great achievement for the Religious Zionist movement.
According to sources, Bayit Yehudi will receive three portfolios. Naftali Bennett will be Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, and an MK from the party will be named Sports and Culture Minister. Bennett will also be given the Religious Affairs, Diaspora and Jerusalem portfolio. Uri Ariel will be the Minister of Construction and Housing and will be in charge of the Israel Lands Administration. This should be very good news for residents of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, because Ariel is unlikely to cooperate with any scheme for housing freezes in these areas, and will likely make every effort to increase construction there.
Bayit Yehudi will also head the Knesset Finance Committee, and possibly the Ministry of Elderly Affairs as well.
A deadlock over the formation of a government was broken after the Likud conceded the Education Ministry to Yesh Atid. Rabbi Shai Piron, number two on the Yesh Atid list, will be named Education Minister. Yair Lapid will be named Finance Minister. Yesh Atid will receive two more portfolios, the sources said: Yael German will be named Health Minister, and Ya'akov Peri will be named Science Minister.
Tzippy Livni will be Justice Minister, and Amir Peretz, number two on the Hatnu'a list, will be named Environment Minister.
A report on Channel One said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will not name a deputy. It is not clear who will be appointed to run the government's day to day affairs when Netanyahu is abroad.
Sources in the Likud said that the deal, while far from ideal, was somewhat better than had been expected. The Likud/Yisrael Beiteinu will retain the Interior Ministry, which had been a bone of contention between Yesh Atid and the Likud. The party will also retain the Foreign Ministry, which will be held “in trust” for Avigdor Lieberman, pending the resolution of his corruption trial.