Yamina officials said Staurday night that they refused the Likud’s proposal of chairman of the Knesset’s Public Inquiries Committee, in addition to two vague portfolios, neither of which is expected to be major. There was talk about Yamina co-chairman and current Defense Minister Naftali Bennett getting the Health Ministry, but no concrete proposal has been made to that effect in his recent meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The same Yamina officials told reporters: “Netanyahu is kicking us out,” which would be on par with the PM’s treatment of the National Religious camp over the past decade.
A Likud official responded, saying: “Yamina has received a super generous proposal, which is bigger than its electoral power (6 seats – DI): Minister of Education, Minister of Jerusalem and the Settlement with control over the National Service, one deputy minister’s position, and chairmanship of a Knesset Committee. Unfortunately, due to internal struggles over the distribution of portfolios among the party leaders, Yamina has declined every proposal.”
And the same Likud official added: “At this time, on the eve of applying sovereignty to Judea and Samaria, not entering the government would be irresponsible.”
Of course, Yamina could approve the promised sovereignty from the opposition benches – should such a move actually take place in a Gantz-Netanyahu government. Netanyahu has used Yamina over three election campaigns as part of his loyal, 58-member rightwing bloc, and kept them in with three prestigious portfolios: Defense, Transport, and Education. Their reward will be a demotion that would dwarf their ability to influence policy.
It could be argued that Yamina could be much more effective in the opposition, hammering Netanyahu from the right and forcing him to adhere to his own party’s rightwing platform. But the question is: are the Yamina leaders prepared to be in the opposition?
There are internal disputes regarding the distribution of the offered portfolios among the four leaders of Yamina: Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked, Bezalel Smotrich and Rabbi Rafi Peretz. They all feel deserving of a Ministerial post, especially Bennett, who has done a good job at Defense. But Smotrich has done an equally good job at Transport, and Shaked is Benett’s co-chair, she has been a loyal partner to him, and feels she should reap as big a reward as he. As to Peretz – his performance at Education left much to be desired, but he is just as ambitious as the next guy.
The most recent offer that was made Saturday night by Minister Yariv Levin to Bennett includes Education, Jerusalem and Heritage, a deputy minister and chair of the Public Inquiries Committee, as well as a possible third of a term at the helm of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.
It’s not much, and with only 6 seats, perhaps a stint in the opposition would be better.