Education Portfolio Sparks Pre-Coalition Battle

In-fighting in Likud between MKs Gamliel and Hotovely for position of Education Minister, while Jewish Home's Shaked also joining the mix.

Hezki Baruch, Cynthia Blank,

MK Hotovely
MK Hotovely
Knesset Channel

A fight over the defense and foreign affairs portfolio began days ago, and it looks as if the education portfolio is now entering the fray

The education portfolio has come to be viewed as the lifeblood of religious Zionism and was consistently desirable for MKs from the National Religious Party (Mafdal - ed.) - a disbanded party that has since merged into the Jewish Home. 

The question being asked now, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu looks primed to set up a narrow right-wing and religious government, is whether the Ministry of Education will go to a representative of religious Zionism. 

Latest reports indicate that Likud has offered the education portfolio to Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett, who has been eyeing either the defense or foreign affairs portfolio. 

At the same time, two Likud MKs have expressed interest in the post - Tzipi Hotovely and Gila Gamliel. Both women would like to upgrade to the role of minister. 

Senior Likud officials claim that after the Prime Minister offered Bennett the education portfolio, and received little signs of enthusiasm, a war for the position broke out within Likud. 

Hotovely claims that she is partially responsible for Likud's big victory, as she brought many votes from the religious Zionist public - votes that she argues decided the election. 

As such, and because of her desire to "influence future generations," she believes she should be given the position of education minister. 

But the fight over the education portfolio doesn't stop within Likud. Bennett may not be interested, but number 3 on Jewish Home's list, Ayelet Shaked, could be. 

Jewish Home officials told Arutz Sheva that "negotiations for ministerial position for the next government have not yet begun. When they start, we will fight for the education portfolio."

Political analysts estimate Shaked is interested in the portfolio, despite previously expressing her desire for the public security portfolio. 

Since the elections last Tuesday, Likud members have become extremely tight-fisted when it comes to ministerial positions. On Sunday, Education and Water Minister Silvan Shalom essentially accused other parties of impudence for demanding top portfolios. 

"The demands of our [coalition] partners are like they're the ones who received 30 mandates, and not us," he charged. 




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