Prime Minister Netanyahu appointed New Right leader MK Naftali Bennett as Israel’s new Defense Minister, on Friday. The appointment will be confirmed by the government on Sunday.
According to a tweet by MK Ayelet Shaked (New Right) Netanyahu offered the New Right party two options. The first option was two ministries for Bennett and Shaked consisting of two choices from Agriculture, Diaspora Affairs or the Welfare Ministry.
The second option was only the Defense Ministry and just Bennett, with the position being his until a new government is formed.
נתניהו הציע לנו שני תיקים מהתיקים הפנויים:חקלאות ,תפוצות ורווחה או רק ביטחון. בהחלטה משותפת סיכמנו שבנט ימונה לשר ביטחון עד שתוקם הממשלה. אני משוכנעת שזה נכון לטובת מדינת ישראל.
— איילת שקד ayelet shaked (@Ayelet__Shaked) November 8, 2019
For years, Bennett has openly declared his desire to be Israel’s Defense Minister. More recently, he has expressed interest in the Finance Ministry.
Bennett also agreed that his three-member New Right party would act a joint faction with the Likud, though the party would not actually merge with the Likud.
Members of the Blue&White party slammed the decision, though the offer from Netanyahu only came after MK Benny Gantz’s Blue&White party reportedly first made Bennett their own offer to jump ship in exchange for two ministerial position.
The appointment of Bennett shores up one of Netanyahu’s weakest links in his rightwing bloc and the coalition negotiations between the Likud and Blue&White.
But Netanyahu’s biggest threat still comes from within his own Likud party, with the risk that some members mayjump ship to join with Blue&White, or that Likud MK Gidon Sa’ar may challenge him for the leadership role, after Blue&White fails to form a coalition within the next two weeks and the coalition building mandate is given to the Knesset.
At the moment, coalition negotiations are still at a stalemate.
Shaked has been working to get MK Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beteinu) to climb down from his tree and return to Netanyahu’s coalition.
Another option that could change the picture is if the Blue&White party breaks up into its individual factions and Gantz’s faction joins Netanyahu’s government as a senior member.