Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Yamina chief Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem Tuesday afternoon for their third meeting since President Reuven Rivlin tasked Netanyahu with forming a new coalition government.
At the same time, negotiating teams from Yamina and the Likud are holding their own meetings as talks continue toward the establishment of a new government.
One of the key issues to be discussed during the Netanyahu-Bennett meeting is how to convince Religious Zionist Party chief Bezalel Smotrich to join a government supported from outside of the coalition by the United Arab List (Ra’am). Thus far, Smotrich has ruled out joining any government which relies on the support of the UAL, which is affiliated with the southern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel.
Netanyahu has reportedly offered Bennett all of the senior ministerial positions currently held by Blue and White, including the Defense Ministry, as well as the Sport and Culture Ministry and the Foreign Ministry, both of which are currently held by the Likud.
One exception, according to a report by Globes, is the Justice Ministry. While the portfolio was held by Blue and White, Netanyahu is hoping to keep the ministry in Likud control.
The Justice Ministry portfolio was given to Blue and White last year, with Avi Nissenkorn tapped to serve as minister. Upon his resignation late last year, however, Benny Gantz was named as acting Justice Minister until a permanent replacement could be named. Since the appointment expired on April 1st, the position has remained vacant.
The two leaders have also discussed Netanyahu’s offer, made before he received the mandate to form a new government, for seven spots on the Likud list for Yamina candidates.