(JNS.org) At the culmination of a long, complex and nerve-wracking negotiation — lasting a whopping 39 days — the coalition agreements that will finalize the(next Israeli government have come to fruition, Israel Hayom reported.
“We did our best with 31 Knesset seats; we are still the ruling party,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday during a Likud-Beytenu faction meeting, just ahead of finalizing the last coalition agreements that will see a new government established.
“The important thing is that we took back the defense portfolio and kept the foreign portfolio,” Netanyahu told his fellow faction members.
Netanyahu was set to meet with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett on Thursday to sign the deal, Haaretz reported. According to reports in the Israeli media, the new government may be sworn in as early as Monday.
The prime minister decided on Wednesday to agree, though some say succumb, to the key demand made by Lapid — that Netanyahu’s Likud party relinquish the education portfolio in favor of Lapid’s No. 2, Shai Piron.
For his part, Lapid agreed to relinquish the Interior Ministry portfolio that had been promised to his party. He also agreed to compromise further on the number of cabinet ministers — he initially demanded that the cabinet be limited to 18 ministers, then reached a deal over 20 ministers, and now, in exchange for the education portfolio, he has agreed to be flexible, allowing the Tzipi Livni-led Hatnuah party to keep the two ministerial portfolios agreed upon in their coalition deal with Netanyahu (under the 20-minister deal, the party would have had to give up one portfolio).