Jewish Home leader Bennett shaking hands with PM NetanyahuJewish Home leader Bennett shaking hands with PM NetanyahuNearly two months after his election victory, and barely two hours ahead of the deadline to form a government, Netanyahu informed Israel's President Reuven Rivlin that he had reached the necessary agreements with his coalition partners, among them the nationalist Jewish Home party, two ultra-Orthodox religious parties and the center-right Kulanu party.
A Netanyahu spokesman said Thursday that the prime minister would also assume the post of foreign minister, which he would like to offer to opposition leader Isaac Herzog "if things work out". Unnamed Likud officials told the newspaper 'Israel Hayom' that Netanyahu was seeking to expand the government beyond its current fragile majority, and that he would pursue negotiations with Herzog's Zionist Union on the matter over the coming weeks.
However, Herzog - who is the chairman of the center-left Labor Party and was the main challenger of Netanyahu in the March election, made it clear on Thursday that he would not to be swayed from going to the opposition. "I will not be a fifth wheel in the Netanyahu government," he said.
Herzog slammed the new Netanyahu Cabinet as a “national failure of a government" which "lacks responsibility, stability and governance."
In a statement Wednesday, after the deal between Likud and Jewish Home was announced, he said: “Tonight we are filled with hope that we will march Israel’s security, economy and all other fields forward.” As part of the deal, Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home party will be appointed justice minister and become a member of the Security Cabinet.
Netanyahu sent Rivlin a letter confirming that he had clinched a coalition agreement, and he now has until next Wednesday to swear in his new Cabinet, which needs to pass a confidence vote in the Knesset.