Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, Nov. 16, attempted to assuage concerns that coalition negotiations had reached an impasse, asking his supporters for “a little patience.”
“With God’s help we’ll establish a right-wing government,” the Likud Party chairman added following a meeting in Jerusalem with Shas leader Aryeh Deri.
Deri, whose party won 11 Knesset seats in the recent election, is reportedly vying to be appointed the next finance minister, with Netanyahu instead having offered him the Defense portfolio, which, in turn, is being demanded by Religious Zionism head Bezalel Smotrich.
Smotrich’s Religious Zionism faction has 14 lawmakers in the new Knesset, although only half of them are members of his Religious Zionism Party.Netanyahu has reportedly told Smotrich he will not be given the Defense Ministry due to his lack of experience and because of objections from the Biden administration.
President Isaac Herzog on Sunday, Nov. 13, tasked Netanyahu with forming the next government. He is in the early stages of attempting to put together a coalition consisting of his Likud (32 seats in the legislature), Religious Zionism, Shas and United Torah Judaism (seven seats).
The four factions won a combined 64 seats in the 120-member Knesset in the Nov. 1 national election.
According to the Basic Law: The government, Netanyahu has four weeks, with the possibility of a 14-day extension, to assemble the support of at least 61 lawmakers to pass a vote of confidence in the parliament.
Israel’s Ma’ariv news outlet reported on Wednesday that Likud representatives are also engaged in talks on the possible formation of a broad coalition with Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s National Unity parties.
All sides vehemently denied the report.