How Can PM Finalize Government?

Shas, UTJ, and Kulanu all close to a final deal with Likud - leaving Netanyahu with two main options to concretize his fourth government.

Cynthia Blank,

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu
Alex Kolomoisky/POOL

With coalition negotiations with United Torah Judaism in their final stages, and Shas and Kulanu not far behind, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may be on the verge of forming his fourth Likud-led government. 

Netanyahu and Kulanu Chairman Moshe Kahlon met for three hours on Sunday night, bringing Likud and Kulanu "closer" to a coalition deal, sources said. 

According to sources, all core issues were dealt with and no major differences between the two parties remain, Channel Two reported. Kulanu will receive the finance and housing portfolios, but will forego the chairmanship of the Finance Committee. 

One lingering problem is that of the leadership of the Interior Ministry's Planning Committee which both Shas chair Aryeh Deri and Kahlon have been vying for for their parties. 

Deri may agree to give this position to a Kulanu MK, for which he is likely to be rewarded with a deputy minister's position in the Treasury, Likud sources said. Sources close to the Kulanu talks agreed that the problem was a minor one and a solution was available. 

If Netanyahu manages to bridge the dispute between Shas and Kulanu, which appears extremely likely, an emerging coalition of 53 MKs will be had within days. 

Upon reaching 53 MKs with Kulanu, Shas and UTJ, Netanyahu will be left with several options to round out his government with the necessary 61 members. 

The first choice is keep the foreign affairs portfolio with Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman, which would increase the coalition number to 59 MKs.

From there either Jewish Home would have to compromise by accepting a mid-level portfolio for Chairman Naftali Bennett, or, if they object, Likud could then turn to Labor for a unity government. 

Alternatively, Netanyahu can come to an agreement with Jewish Home, giving Bennett a top portfolio, and bringing the coalition total to a good 61 MKs. Liberman could then either go along with less senior positions or choose to sit in the opposition. 




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