Following the resignation of Avigdor Liberman from the Foreign Ministry and his decision to bring the Yisrael Beytenu party into the opposition, the Bayit Yehudi held an emergency meeting on Monday evening to reconsider their strategy and Netanyahu’s offer/threat.
Kulanu, UTJ and Shas have already signed with the Likud to join the coalition. The only options left open to Netanyahu at this point to put together his coalition is with either Bayit Yehudi, Yesh Atid or the Zionist Camp, and he has only until this Wednesday to sign one of them, otherwise President Rivlin will offer a different party the opportunity.
UTJ will absolutely not sit with Yesh Atid, nor does Netanyahu want Lapid in his coalition.
The Zionist Union could be a possibility, but it would be a major betrayal of the Likud voters who don’t want them in the government, and most likely they would need to dump Tzipi Livni, whom Netanyahu also doesn’t want to see again in his government, if possible. The Zionist Camp has said they won’t sit in Netanyahu’s coalition.
So, the keys to the kingdom are in Bennett’s hands.
Bayit Yehudi is a natural partner, but the Bayit Yehudi party feels that Netanyahu is not giving them a fair deal, especially after quietly acquiescing to Netanyahu’s siphoning off their voters with his emergency appeals right before elections.
Bennett also claims that Netanyahu, before the elections, offered him the Defense Ministry, and then recanted the offer after the elections.
Bayit Yehudi was also offered to chair the Judicial committee, but it is unlikely that the Likud will allow them to make major reforms against the overly powerful Supreme Court, so that position may be less valuable than previously thought.
At the emergency meeting, Bayit Yehudi saw Liberman’s withdrawal as an opportunity to get the Foreign Ministry, which they have demanding since the elections were over. Bayit Yehudi is particularly miffed that Shas got full control of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and will probably now roll back all the progress that Bayit Yehudi made in rectifying that troubled field.
With the keys in his hands, Bennett has the opportunity to demand corrections in the deal with Shas (unlikely as Shas will bolt), as well as to demand a more significant post or posts.
The question is, in this game of chicken, who will blink first?