Recent polls show that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu could easily form a new government if elections were held now – and a prominent member of his coalition would be Jewish Home, which polls have shown is strengthening significantly as well. In an interview on Hadashot News, Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett has named his “price” for joining a new Netanyahu coalition – the office of defense minister.
“I do not plan on pushing Netanyahu aside,” as many in the media have claimed. “But if he is to be prime minister again, I will most certainly demand the defense portfolio. I think this is essential.” With that, he said, if Netanyahu decides not to run for some reason, “I will run for the prime minister’s office.
Bennett sought the post in the current government as well, and the formation of the coalition was held up due to the dispute between Bennett and Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman, who also demanded the post. Bennett in the end withdrew from the contention, instead receiving the Education portfolio, while Liberman took Defense – even though Jewish Home has more members in the current Knesset than does Yisrael Beytenu.
Jewish Home currently has eight seats in the Knesset. Recent polls consistently show the party getting 12 to 14 seats in new elections, while Yisrael Beytenu is predicted to get just half of those numbers.