Likud MKs battle for ministerial slots in newly formed coalition


Although Likud leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concluded agreements this week with other parties to form a coalition government, he now reportedly faces pressure from his own MKs over ministerial appointments within Likud.

With less than two hours before the deadline to form a coalition on Wednesday, Netanyahu agreed a deal with Jewish Home which gave him a single-seat majority government. Given the precarious advantage, widespread media reports say that Netanyahu will on Sunday attempt to push through a Knesset bill to increase the number of ministers from 18 to 22, which he hopes will help placate the ambitions of his coalition partners and fellow Likud MKs.

One of the major points of contention could be over who becomes the next Foreign Minister, following Avigdor Lieberman’s decision earlier this week for his Yisrael Beitenu party to remain in opposition. Channel Ten claimed yesterday that Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom told Netanyahu that he won’t support an extended cabinet unless he is appointed Foreign Minister. It is also thought that senior Likud figures Gilad Erdan and Yuval Steinitz have also thrown their hats into the ring for the position. However, some reports say that Netanyahu will leave the role vacant in order to later entice opposition leader Isaac Herzog into joining his government.

Meanwhile, Channel Two also reported that various Likud MKs have indicated that they will withhold support to increase the number of ministerial positions until they have learned which portfolios they will receive. Miri Regev, who was fifth on the Likud list of parliamentary candidates has threatened a “revolution” if she is not handed a ministerial position. Meanwhile, Likud MK Ayoub Kara, the party’s sole Druze parliamentary representative told the Knesset Channel, “If I am not made a minister – there will be surprises.” He added, “A government will not be formed that does not have a Druze minister – to pass a clear message that we are an integral part of this country.”