Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett on Sunday night threatened to end the coalition negotiations with the Likud, if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decides to appoint Shas chairman Aryeh Deri as Religious Affairs Minister.
“Unilaterally taking the Religious Affairs portfolio from religious Zionism and giving it to Shas is the end of the negotiations with the Jewish Home,” Bennett announced on his Twitter account, in a signal to Netanyahu that he must reverse his decision to give the Ministry of Religious Affairs to Shas if he wants Jewish Home in the coalition.
Netanyahu has been struggling thus far to close deals with the different parties, despite important meetings with Jewish Home and Yisrael Beytenu on Friday.
Reports on Friday indicated that Netanyahu is expected to offer Jewish Home more portfolios during this term - with the Agriculture Ministry, the Strategic Affairs Ministry, the Economics Ministry, and at least one other unnamed portfolio on the line, but to specifically keep Bennett away from central and influential positions.
On Monday, Netanyahu is expected to ask President Reuven Rivlin for a two-week extension in putting together a coalition due to his difficulties in closing deals the various parties.
Netanyahu has also reportedly not ruled out a unity government with the Labor party, though Labor chairman Yitzhak Herzog reiterated Saturday that he has had no contacts with Netanyahu and that he would be going to the opposition by choice.