Ultra-Orthodox Party Also Receives Religious Affairs and Negev and Galilee Ministries, Deputy Minister
The ultra-Orthodox Shas party signed a coalition agreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party on Monday evening, effectively joining the government.
The Sephardi haredi party is the third party to join the fourth Netanyahu government, after Ashkenazi haredi party United Torah Judaism and Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party joined the coalition on Wednesday. Netanyahu only has Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett left to recruit, after Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Lieberman announced earlier Monday he would not join the new government.
Shas leader Aryeh Deri will head the Economy Ministry, replacing Bennett. Shas will also receive the Religious Affairs Ministry and the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee, as well as a deputy minister position in the Finance Ministry.
Despite winning the battle with Bayit Yehudi over the Religious Affairs portfolio, the disputed issue of conversions will be under the Prime Minister’s Office’s authority.
The Likud party said it made an “unprecedented offer” to Bayit Yehudi leader Bennett, which includes the Education Ministry, the Diaspora Affairs portfolio, the Agriculture Ministry, the Culture and Sport Ministry, and a deputy ministerial position in the Defense Ministry.
In addition, Bennett was offered membership in the Security Cabinet, and control of the Settlement Division.
“I promised and I kept my promise. The things we promised before the election: zero percent VAT (on basic foodstuff), the public housing reform, and (raising) minimum wage,” Deri said.
He called on Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog to join the government, after Lieberman’s decision to opt out of the coalition leaves Netanyahu with a narrow 61-member government (out of the existing 120 Knesset members).
“There’s a true opportunity for a socially oriented government,” Deri said.
By Moran Azulay, YnetNews
printed with permission