Likud head Benjamin Netanyahu, Religious Zionism head Bezalel Smotrich
Likud head Benjamin Netanyahu, Religious Zionism head Bezalel SmotrichHaim Tuitto

Likud head MK Benjamin Netanyahu will be heading to the President's Residence on Sunday in order to receive the official mandate to form Israel's next government, after 64 Knesset members recommended him.

According to Israeli law, Netanyahu will then have 28 days to form a workable coalition, with an option for 14 additional days if necessary and the President agrees. Netanyahu reportedly hopes to finalize his coalition agreements this week and have his government sworn into office by Tuesday; however, at this point in time it appears that the process will not be completed until next week.

Netanyahu's Likud party has yet to sign an agreement with any party, and there are reportedly still significant gaps between its position and those of both the haredi parties and Religious Zionism.

Meanwhile, Channel 13 News has reported that officials within the Likud party are exerting pressure on Netanyahu to leave the Defense portfolio in Likud's hands and to give the Finance Ministry to MK Bezalel Smotrich. In such a scenario, Shas head Aryeh Deri would receive the Interior Ministry as well as the Religious Affairs Ministry, with Religious Zionism being given the post of minister within the Ministry, or some other significant position of authority.

Coalition negotiations will be continuing throughout Sunday, with the haredi UTJ party seen as closest to signing a deal with Likud. UTJ head Yitzhak Goldknopf is expected to receive the position of Minister or deputy minister of Housing and Construction, and the number two on the party's list, veteran MK and Degel HaTorah head MK Moshe Gafni will probably receive the chairmanship of the Knesset Finance Committee, a position he has filled in the past. MK Meir Porush (Agudat Yisrael) is expected to be appointed a minister in the Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Ministry.