Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) chairman Naftali Bennett finally signed a coalition agreement Thursdays morning, and the new government will take office next week.
Opposition leader Yitzchak Herzog vehemently denied all reports that he and Prime Minister Netanyahu will form a national unity government in the future. The rumors multiplied this week with the post of Foreign Minister still in the hands of the Prime Minister.
Thursday morning’s signature by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Bennett was a birthday gift for Bayit Yehudi Knesset Member Ayelet Shaked, who is 39 years old today. She will be the new Justice Minister, despite having only having two years of experience in politics. She also will chair the important Cabinet committee for legislation.
Uri Ariel, a senior Bayit Yehudi MK and Housing Minister in the previous government, will become Agriculture Minister along with responsibility for the Settlement Division.
The Shaked-Ariel combo is poison to the left and the Obama administration. Shaked will have authority to approve legal construction in Judea and Samaria, where Ariel encourages construction.
In addition, a Bayit Yehudi Knesset Member – apparently Bennett – will be Deputy Defense Minister with responsibility for the Civil Administration.
The deal puts all the cards for Judea and Samaria in the hands of the Bayit Yehudi except for the Defense Ministry, where Moshe Ya’alon will remain at the helm and is the final authority for approving new homes for Jews.
Bennett will be Minister of Education, and Netanyahu has promised that more money will be budgeted for Ariel University, located in Samaria.
With Shas, Yehadut HaTorah and Kulanu, Prime Minister Netanyahu has a majority of only one.
The thinnest possible coalition majority is a two-edged sword. Any party can threaten Netanyahu to give in to its demands if he wants to remain in power but also will be very careful not blow up the government.
The new government also will see Shas, which heads the Religious Affairs Ministry, trying to see how it can push Bayit Yehudi.