Likud and Otzma Yehudit agreed Friday on the positions the far-right party will hold in the new government, with Itamar Ben Gvir holding the newly created position of Minister of National Security (an expanded role of Minister of Public Security).
The parties signed an annex to a coalition agreement, but not yet the full deal itself, detailing the posts Otzma Yehudit will receive.
In addition to the Ministry of National Security, the party will also own the modified portfolio of the Development of the Negev, Galilee and the Ministry of National Fortitude (English translation not yet official); the heritage portfolio, the role of State Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Affairs; chairing the Knesset’s Public Security Committee; and rotating chairmanship of the special committee for the Israeli Citizens’ Fund (which oversees state revenue from gas drilling).
The Ministry of Negev and Galilee will be headed by Otzma Yehudit No. 2 Yitzhak Wasserlauf, and Amichai Eliyahu will assume the portfolio of the Ministry of Heritage.
The Ministry of Negev and Galilee will receive an annual budget of NIS 2 billion and will also be responsible for implementing the regulation of new settlements in the West Bank.
Knesset member Almog Cohen will be deputy economy minister and former IDF general Zvika Fogel will chair the public safety committee. MK Limor Son Har-Melech will take over Otzma Yehudit’s position on the gas royalty commission.
The deal also includes an agreement to establish a large-scale National Guard, and the expansion of reserve force mobilization in the Border Police.
Ben Gvir’s ministry will be in control of the West Bank Branch of the Border Police, currently under the Ministry of Defense with some input from the Ministry of Public Security.
The move means the far-right party leader will take control of Border Police forces involved in police riots in the West Bank and evacuation of outposts.
There will also be a “comprehensive southern law” that will allow the shooting of thieves caught stealing guns from military bases.
Last year, the military updated its Rules of Engagement to make it easier for soldiers to open fire on suspected gun thieves and smugglers in an effort to crack down on crime. It was not immediately clear what the impact of the amendment would be.
In a statement, Ben Gvir said the deal was “a big step towards signing a full coalition agreement and establishing an all-right government”, and that it would work with previous agreements with Likud, such as the formal regulation of the West Bank flashpoint. Homesh yeshiva and Evyatar outpost.
Earlier this week, two former senior police officials publicly warned that expected changes in the relationship between the police and the minister of public security (as the role is now known), demanded by Ben Gvir, could spell the end of Israeli democracy.
The deal with Otzma Yehudit marked the slow but steady progress of Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu in his efforts to form a coalition after this month’s election as he moves closer to making full deals with Otzma Yehudit and the Haredi Shas party came.
The protracted negotiations have dampened Netanyahu’s hopes of quickly forming a government after the November 1 election gave the bloc leading a 64-seat majority in the 120-member Knesset. Conversations hit roadblocks from his partners’ mounting and sometimes conflicting demands.
According to Channel 12 news, the parties agreed to split up the current Ministry for the Development of the Periphery, Negev and Galilee as Shas insisted on keeping the “periphery” portfolio – referring to often poorer towns outside the central population centers of Israel. – as it views such locations as an important part of its voter base.
Meanwhile, Shas is given the Department of the Interior and Health and Welfare portfolios.
However, Deri’s fitness to be a minister is currently in question after the attorney general said his recent conviction for corruption could include a finding of moral malpractice, barring him from holding a cabinet position for seven years. Deri was given a 12-month suspended prison sentence last year, but resigned from parliament before signing a plea deal allowing him to evade a conviction of moral turpitude.
Shas and Likud are reportedly investigating an amendment to the law to allow the Shas leader, who served 22 months in prison from 2000 to 2002 for taking bribery, to return as minister.
Meanwhile, Likud talks with Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism seemed to stall.
Smotrich has demanded either the defense ministry or the treasury, and Netanyahu seems to have agreed in recent days to give him the latter for at least the first two years of government. Despite the reported progress, talks with Smotrich remained embroiled in mutual accusations, with Religious Zionism claiming that Netanyahu had gone back on promises, and Likud accusing the far-right party of making exaggerated demands in return for allegiance to the emerging government.
In addition to his first two years in the Treasury Department, Smotrich has reportedly demanded the portfolios for settlement affairs and immigrant absorption, as well as chairing four of the 11 coalition-controlled Knesset committees.
Citing sources involved in the talks, Haaretz reported that Smotrich also demanded control over the state’s Jewish proselytizing system.
Reports showed that Likud had agreed to hand over control of civilian administration to Smotrich — the part of the Defense Department that administers Area C in the West Bank, where all Israeli settlers and several thousand Palestinians live under Israeli civilian and military control .
But in a lengthy statement released Wednesday following reports of the progress of negotiations, the religious Zionism accused Likud of continuously leaking “lies” to the press as part of the coalition negotiations, claiming that Likud wanted to “trample and humiliate” the party and sideline”.
“It didn’t go well” in more than a decade under Netanyahu, the party accused, saying it “promised it will be different this time,” citing a list of its often radical demands related to security, the judiciary , settlements , and religious affairs.
Earlier on Wednesday, Likud MP Yariv Levin, the party’s chief executive in coalition negotiations, reportedly said in private conversations that Smotrich’s demands to bring parts of ministries under his control, such as civilian administration, would create “a government within a government.” to shape. the questions as “delusional”.
Meanwhile, the second Haredi party of the future coalition, United Torah Judaism, is expected to get the Ministry of Housing and Ministry of Social Equality augmented by the Labor Department of the Ministry of Finance.
UTJ’s Moshe Gafni was appointed chairman of the Knesset’s temporary finance committee on Monday, and the party also wants control over the labor, health, and internal affairs and environmental committees.
But the Haredi party also complained of feeling sidelined in the negotiations.
Coalition negotiations between the parties have dragged on since Netanyahu was given a 28-day mandate to form a government earlier this month amid bickering over appointments and legislative priorities. The mandate expires on December 11, but can be extended by two weeks.
Carrie Keller-Lynn and Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.