David Weinberg, Director of the CIC Israel Office, is monitoring developments as Israeli Prime Minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu moves to complete his government.
Today, the Labor Party Â decided Â to ratify the deal that Ehud Barak has crafted leading Labor into Netanyahu’s government. Here is breaking news coverage from the Jerusalem Post.
The problem is that even with Â the deal Â approved, Netanyahu is still in a coalition predicament. The Labor Party could split over a decision to join the government, with up to seven of its 13 MKs bolting the party and remaining in opposition. (These include Braverman, Tamir, Bensimon, Cabel, Pines and Yehimovich.) Â UTJ and the Jewish Home parties also are hiccupping on their way into the coalition, each for different reasons.
More saliently, Netanyahu has yet to tackle his greatest coalition dilemma: what to do with members of his own party, Likud. There are almost no senior cabinet or Knesset posts left for Likud MKs. The multiple political partners needed to craft the patchwork coalition have consumed most of the plum posts.
The foreign affairs (minister and deputy), internal security, tourism, absorption, and infrastructure ministerial posts have gone to Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu party, along with chairmanship of the powerful law committee in Knesset.
Interior, housing, religion, and a ministership without portfolio in the PMO have gone to Shas, along with a deputy minister in the finance ministry, and chairmanship of the Knesset interior committee.
If it enters the government, Labor will take defense (for Barak), industry and trade, labor and social welfare, agriculture, a ministership without portfolio, two deputy ministers, and chairmanship (by rotation) of the important Knesset foreign and defense committee.
Likud, Labor and Israel Beiteinu already have agreed that Prof. Yaacov Neeman (a “professional” appointment from outside the political arena) will be appointed justice minister.
That leaves education, finance and health as the only significant posts available for about ten major Likud MKs who expect to be in cabinet, along with some minor (and largely unnecessary) posts such as communications, Negev affairs, Diaspora affairs, environment, science, culture and sport, and so on.
So much for the “Likud election victory” of February 2009!