Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) chairman Naftali Bennett used Twitter late Sunday night to warn Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that he can forget about a right-wing coalition if he fulfills a pre-election promise to give the Shas Sephardi Hareidi party control of the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
Bennett was in charge of the ministry in the last government and is not willing to leave the national religious community out in the cold and let a Hareidi party reverse a trend to weaken the authority of the Hareidi establishment.
Unilaterally taking the Ministry of Religious Affairs away from the national religious community and handing it over to Shas means the end of negotiations with Bayit Yehudi.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is asking President Reuven Rivlin for another two weeks to form a coalition.
The truth is that if the Prime Minister had run out of extensions, he and the potential coalition partners would have struck a deal now. As usual, everyone uses the clock to play chicken with each other.
Netanyahu knows that Bennett and Shas chairman Aryeh Deri are not prepared to force him into a corner without a coalition. And Bennett and Aryeh know that that if they do so, there always is the option of a national unity government with the dreaded Yitzchak Herzog and Tzipi Livni. Going that route would make the last Titanic coalition look like the Queen Elizabeth, so you can count on everyone finding common ground.
But how can Netanyahu get out of this mess created by promising the Religious Affairs Ministry to Shas when Bennett blocks it with a red line?
Netanyahu can simply declare himself Minister of Religious Affairs and appoint two deputies – Bennett and Deri.
We wanted a Jewish country, right?
So we come up with Jewish solutions.
Two Jews, three ministers.Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu