Formation of a new government is almost complete after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) chairman Naftali smoked a peace pipe on Friday.
Bennett has backed down on his party taking over the post of Foreign Minister, which Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman will retain, or Defense Minister, where the Likud’s Moshe Ya’alon will continue to run.
Instead, Bennett will head the Education Ministry, a plum because of its budget allocations that include national religious institutions. He will give up the post as Minister of Economy, which Reshet Bet (Voice of Israel) radio said may be filled by Silvan Shalom of the Likud.
Bayit Yehudi will get two other posts. Uri Ariel will serve as Minister of Agriculture, which is important for Jordan Valley farmers as well as those in Judea and Samaria, and Ayelet Shaked reportedly will be Minister of Sport and Culture. Pensioners’ affairs and responsibility for national service, such as Sherut Leumi for girls and boys who prefer that option as an alternative to IDF service, probably will be attached to the ministry.
Shas is slated to head the Religious Affairs Ministry under a compromise with Bayit Yehudi, whose Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan probably will be deputy minister.
The last remaining puzzle in the coalition is the Yehadut HaTorah (UTJ) party, but with all the other pieces in place, Netanyahu should have no problem finalizing the coalition by the end of this week or shortly after, meeting the latest deadline granted by President Reuven Rivlin.
One other question is what ministry will be run by senior Likud MK Shalom, who was Minister for Development in the Galilee and Negev in the last government. The best bet is that he will replace Bennett as Minister of Economy.
The proposed coalition, for now, includes Sofa Landver continuing as Minister of Immigration, and Kulanu chairman Moshe Kachlon as Finance Minister. His party also is slated to head the Environment and Housing Ministries.
Yisrael Katz of the Likud will continue as Minister of Transportation, and Voice of Israel reported that Yuval Steinitz will be the new Minister for Public Security.
That will be good news for the public at large following a miserable defense of the police by outgoing Minister Yitzchak Aharonovich. Several senior police officers have been dismissed or are under investigation for sexual harassment. Aharonovich also has been under constant criticism for ignoring police brutality.
The proposed coalition is a far cry from the previous government, which was doomed from the outset with the inclusion of Yesh Atid, headed by Yair Lapid.
With all coalition partners more or less seeing eye to eye on most foreign and domestic policies, the next government has a chance of achieving a rare feat and staying in office until the end of its four-year term, sparing Israeli voters of another exasperating election until 2019Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu