As a token of his seriousness about not giving up on a broader coalition with Zionist Camp, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that he will continue to serve as acting Foreign Minister, effectively holding the position vacant for Isaac Herzog.
“I’m keeping the portfolios as another option to expand the government further and bring in the Zionist Camp party later on,” Netanyahu told Likud ministers on Sunday morning.
Besides the Foreign Ministry, Netanyahu also continues holding onto the Communications Ministry, the Economy Ministry and the Regional Cooperation Ministry — all of which could be doled out to Herzog’s party at a later date.
He also promised that if Zionist Camp would enter the coalition, it would mean “not just portfolios, but also diplomatic moves.”
But the astonishing turnabout from Herzog to Liberman has left so much anger and resentment that a restart at this stage seems extremely unlikely.
“There’s no chance we’ll join [the government]. The curtains have closed, the deadline has passed, and now I hope we can return to being a combative opposition for the public who voted for us,” said senior MK Eitan Cabel.
In the meantime, pressure mounts on Netanyahu to fill those posts from within his own Likud party. A situation in which none of the governing party’s top people hold any of the senior ministerial positions – now that Defense goes to Yisrael Beytenu’s Avigdor Liberman and Kulanu’s Moshe Kahlon is Finance Minister – is surely untenable.
“Another belief is that the prime minister reportedly decided not to hand out the foreign affairs portfolio at present because he wants to avoid confrontation with two of the party’s senior ministers, Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who are both claiming Netanyahu promised the post to them,” Ynet reported on Sunday.