Likud and the United Torah Judaism party signed a preliminary coalition agreement on Tuesday.
According to the agreement, UTJ leader Yitzchak Goldknopf will become Minister of Housing and Construction while MK Moshe Gafni will chair the Knesset Finance Committee. UTJ will also receive the Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Ministry. UTJ said further details and other “fundamental issues” remain to be worked out.
Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has until Sunday to finalize coalition agreements and present his government to the Knesset for approval. If an agreement is not reached in time, Netanyahu is expected to ask President Isaac Herzog for a two-week extension.
The extension is customarily given, but outgoing Justice and Transportation Ministers Gideon Saar and Merav Michaeli respectively called on Herzog not to grant it.
“It’s a deception,” Saar said. He asserted that Netanyahu has already reached the necessary understandings but is delaying matters in order to first pass a series of “problematic laws” his coalition partners are insisting on.
The election of new Knesset speaker has not taken place, though that traditionally happens when a new Knesset is sworn in. The delay in replacing Mickey Levy is attributed to the right wing bloc’s need to pass legislation that would enable Shas party leader Aryeh Deri to have a cabinet position. Deri agreed to a plea deal agreement in which he admitted to two tax offenses, paid a fine of 180,000 shekels ($52,000) and resigned from the Knesset.
Levy announced that a vote on his replacement will take place on Monday after he received a request signed by 64 lawmakers.