Three days before the swearing in of the new government, and the anger among members of the Likud over their ministerial assignments is growing.
Sources close to Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that he would call the Likud’s Knesset members to meetings on Wednesday, the day before the government is scheduled to be sworn in, and would tell them which portfolio it was decided to appoint them to - if at all.
Kan 11 News reported, meanwhile, that MK Yisrael Katz is threatening not to enter the government if he is not appointed Foreign Minister. “It’s either the Foreign Ministry, or I’m out,” Katz reportedly said.
MKs who are closed to Katz, such as David Bitan, are also angry with Netanyahu following the recent moves and the distribution of ministerial portfolios within the Likud, according to the report.
MK Dudi Amsalem, for example, expects to be appointed Speaker of the Knesset, after the position of Minister of Justice has already been assigned to Yariv Levin. Sources close to Amsalem hinted that if not will receive a significant post, he prefers to serve as a full member of the Knesset.
Meanwhile on Monday, Bitan criticized the conduct of Netanyahu over the formation of the government.
"Netanyahu did not set a red line. He made a mistake, it is clear to him today that he made a mistake," Bitan said in an interview with Channel 12 News.
He cited as an example the law against discrimination and the repeal of the racism clause. "These bills do a great deal of damage to Likud. It is a popular party that represents the entire population. This law will not happen, it is dead in my opinion. It also achieves the opposite results - do you want Arabs who work in a hospital to say that they do not want to treat Jews? There are two sides to the coin."
Bitan claimed that Netanyahu had lost his leadership.
"He needs to show that he is the leader and we will follow him, and if he doesn't do that, we are in trouble," claimed Bitan, who also warned that if Smotrich and Ben Gvir don't lay low, the government will not last long.
He also commented on Netanyahu's intention to appoint Ron Dermer to the position of Foreign Minister, saying, "I don't understand it. There are enough serious and experienced Knesset members in the Likud. Ron Dermer’s contribution, in a democratic government, is zero. I hope Netanyahu will come to his senses and not appoint Ron Dermer at all."
Bitan said that it is a problem that the Knesset members of the Likud have not yet been informed of which ministerial portfolios they would receive. "This creates tremendous tension within the party. People should have been called today and told what they are receiving. [Netanyahu] should have relieved the members of the Knesset of the tension they are under. This is not healthy in politics - and the members of the Knesset will not forget it."