Herzog looking to oust Jewish Home minister

As negotiations for unity government continue, Zionist Union chief reportedly looking to unseat Uri Ariel from Agriculture Ministry.

David Rosenberg ,

Netanyahu and Herzog
Netanyahu and Herzog
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

A week after it was reported that high-level negotiations were underway between the Netanyahu government and representatives of the Zionist Union party, details are beginning to emerge of a potential deal.

Looking to expand his narrow 61 seat majority government, Netanyahu has worked to bring in the left-wing Zionist Union party since elections were held last March.

Some senior Labor leaders within the Zionist Union, however, have adamantly opposed a unity government. Former Labor chief Shelly Yachimovich has blasted talk of sitting in Netanyahu’s coalition, saying his plan for Israel’s offshore natural gas reserves was a deal-breaker.

Zionist Union head Yitzhak Herzog, however, appears to be receptive to a unity government, a move that would stabilize Netanyahu’s coalition, but also push it towards the left.

The price for the party’s entry into the government appears to include one of the ministries now held by the Jewish Home party.

While the Justice Ministry, now held by Ayelet Shaked, had been considered previously, Zionist Union officials on Monday said that the faction was considering the Agriculture Ministry.

The Agriculture Ministry would be useful for the Zionist Union’s Labor faction, many constituents of which are affiliated with the Kibbutz movement.

Such a move would also achieve the ouster of incumbent minister Uri Ariel, chief of the Tekuma faction within Jewish Home. Party officials noted that the removal of Ariel was an important condition for their entry into the coalition.

“Sitting in the government with the far-right parties will present the Zionist Union in a negative light,” party members said on Monday.

Last Tuesday, Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett warned that the entry of the Zionist Union into the government could force his party out, calling the Justice Ministry a red-line.