For the first time, parliamentary caucus to host a delegation of PA officials for a gathering in support of renewed negotiations
As peace talks get underway in Washington, back in Jerusalem the Knesset will play host on Wednesday to a delegation of Palestinian Authority officials for a discussion on advancing support for the talks.
The event is being held “to demonstrate that there is real support on both sides for the renewal of negotiations, and to strengthen support for a two-state solution,” according to MK Hilik Bar (Labor), chair of the Knesset Caucus to Resolve the Arab-Israeli Conflict, which is hosting the gathering.
The agreements between the Likud, Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid are expected to be placed on the Knesset table before the end of the day.
The coalition agreements between the Likud/Yisrael Beytenu and the Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi parties are expected to be placed on the Knesset table before the end of the day on Thursday.
The negotiating teams of the three parties met late on Wednesday night to work out the wording of the agreements.
Later on Thursday the members of the Bayit Yehudi are expected to gather to approve the signed agreements. The Likud party members are also expected to hold a meeting during the day to decide on the distribution of the ministerial portfolios within the party.
The meeting is expected to be particularly difficult for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has been left with only seven ministerial portfolios for the Likud. Criticism of Netanyahu among the Likud members was voiced already on Wednesday night.
According to the agreement, Israel’s new government will look as follows:
Avigdor Lieberman – Foreign Minister
Zeev Elkin – Deputy Foreign Minister
Moshe Yaalon – Defense Minister
Yair Shamir – Agriculture Minister
Yitzhak Aharonovitch – Minister of Internal Security
Sofa Landver – Immigration Absorption Minister
Uzi Landau – Tourism Minister
Yisrael Katz – Transportation Minister
Gideon Saar or Gilad Erdan – Interior Minister
Yuli Edelstein – Knesset Speaker
The Likud will also get the Communications, Infrastructure, Strategic Affairs and Home Front Defense Ministries. The identity of each of these ministers has yet to be determined.
Yair Lapid – Finance Minister
Rabbi Shai Piron – Minister of Education
Yaakov Peri – Minister of Science
Meir Cohen – Welfare Minister
Yael German – Health Minister
Some reports indicated that MK Ofer Shelah may be appointed Deputy Defense Minister.
Naftali Bennett – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economics and Trade, the Diaspora and Jerusalem
Uri Ariel – Housing and Construction Minister who will also be in charge of the Israel Lands Administration
Uri Orbach – Pensioners’ Affairs Minister
Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan – Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs
Bayit Yehudi will also receive the chairmanship of the Knesset’s Finance Committee (to be given to either MK Nissan Slomianski or Ayelet Shaked), and one of its MKs will be appointed Deputy Minister of Education.
Tzipi Livni – Justice Minister
Amir Peretz – Environment Minister
A deadlock over the formation of the government was broken on Wednesday evening, after the Likud conceded the Education Ministry to Yesh Atid.
Earlier in the day, Netanyahu warned Lapid that time has run out, and that if Lapid could not find a way to compromise on his “excessive demands,” then Netanyahu would approach the hareidi-religious parties instead to negotiate their entry into the coalition.
The coalition agreement appears to be a great achievement for the Religious Zionist movement, especially with Uri Ariel being appointed as Housing Minister. Ariel’s appointment should be very good news for residents of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, because he is unlikely to cooperate with any scheme for housing freezes in these areas, and will likely make every effort to increase construction there.
The opposition parties, meanwhile, predicted that the new government would not last long.