Report: Herzog Demands Justice Ministry, Netanyahu Won’t Give It

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) speaks with Leader of the Zionist Camp party Isaac Herzog (C) and Leader of the Joint Arab list, Ayman Odeh during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament on September 2, 2015. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (L.) speaks with MK Yitzchak Herzog (C.) and MK Ayman Odeh during a plenum session in the Knesset. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Reports Monday night said that Zionist Camp head Yitzchak Herzog had met secretly with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The report in Haaretz said that Herzog had asked to be given the Justice or Communications Ministries, along with several other jobs for MKs he would bring in with him. The meeting ended inconclusively.

A source in the coalition said that Netanyahu had not offered him those senior portfolios, but several lesser ones. “The Justice Ministry is run by Ayelet Shaked, and she especially is a ‘red flag’ for the left, and just removing her from that job will be seen as a victory in Labor,” the source told the newspaper. “I do not get the impression that Netanyahu is planning to back down on this and replace her.” A statement by Herzog’s office called the report “erroneous.”

The question of Herzog’s joining the coalition has raised the hackles of politicians across the spectrum. Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid said Monday night that the back and forth on negotiations was hurting the government. “This is not good for the state, it sends a message that politicians should be seen cynically, and people come to the conclusion that the political system has nothing to do with them – that it doesn’t deal with issues of life and death like war and peace, the economy, or our relations with the rest of the world – that all it involves are jobs.”

Speaking on Army Radio, the incoming head of the coalition, MK David Bitan, said that he would be much more comfortable seeing Avigdor Liberman and Yisrael Beitenu joining the coalition than Yitzchak Herzog and his comrades. “If he does come in, it will be only for the Defense portfolio. He is not interested in anything else. I am in favor of his joining, it will make the government much more stable. In that case, Moshe Yaalon will become Foreign Minister. This should not be seen as a demotion. This is one of those things that we have no other options, and I am sure Yaalon will understand this.”