Report: Herzog demanded Justice, Culture

Coalition source: Herzog asked for significant improvement in the ministries he'd receive upon joining the government.

Ben Ariel ,

Netanyahu and Herzog
Netanyahu and Herzog
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

More details are emerging about Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Zionist Union chairman Yitzhak Herzog’s meeting on Sunday night on the possible formation of a unity government.

According to Haaretz, despite the fact that Herzog’s associates claimed that the talks hadn’t made progress, Netanyahu, in various conversations he had on Monday, expressed optimism about being able to wrap up the process in the near future.

The meeting, which was first reported by Channel 2, was long and came after weeks during which the two hadn’t met face to face, according to the newspaper.

Herzog reportedly asked for a significant improvement in the offers that had been made so far so that he could persuade party colleagues to join him.

“We’re not talking only about ideological issues, but also about jobs. Herzog isn’t happy with the portfolios he’s meant to get and is asking that his party get either justice, communications, or culture,” a coalition source told Haaretz on Monday night, adding, “The ministers holding these positions are considered red flags from the left’s perspective and removing Ayelet Shaked, Miri Regev or Netanyahu himself from these portfolios would be considered a significant achievement.”

At the same time, the source stressed that he “didn’t get the impression that Netanyahu plans to give in on this.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett has made it clear that the Jewish Home party would leave the coalition if Shaked would lose the justice portfolio to Zionist Union.

Herzog, meanwhile, has also demanded to be involved in drawing up the natural gas framework and that a series of controversial bills be taken off the agenda.

The report about Herzog’s latest demands follows a Channel 10 report on Sunday which said that Herzog and Netanyahu had been drafting an announcement on a construction freeze in Judea and Samaria, which was reportedly one of Herzog’s main demands.

Such an announcement would not mean much, however, since there already is a de facto construction freeze in Judea and Samaria, and would merely serve as a “headline” to help the Labor Central Committee approve a motion to join the coalition.

Meanwhile, polls released on Monday evening found that the Zionist Union would lose seats in the next election if it joins Netanyahu’s coalition. The polls also found that the majority of Israelis are opposed to a unity government.

Following the release of those polls, Zionist Union MKs, already against a unity government, called on Herzog to immediately stop his talks with Netanyahu.