The efforts by Yamina leader Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid to form a government remained on hold on Tuesday due to the escalation of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip aimed at Israeli civilians.
The official coalition negotiations at Ramat Gan’s Kfar Maccabiah Hotel were canceled, but talks to resolve remaining differences continued by phone and under the radar.
Completing the task of forming a government by the end of the week, which appeared possible on Monday morning, is no longer an option. The earliest possible date to swear in a new government is now next Tuesday, after Shavuot,. But if the violence continues, it could end up being closer to the end of Lapid’s mandate on June 2.
It was already known that the formation of a government was put in jeopardy by Ra’am (United Arab List) chairman Mansour Abbas’s freezing talks until the security situation subsides.
The Jerusalem Post learned exclusively on Tuesday that there was one more complication in building a government caused by the escalation: Bennett intends to appoint Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi to a senior ministerial post.
He said he resigned to remain mayor of Sderot. But there was speculation the real reason was that he opposed Bennett forming a government with centrist and left-wing parties instead of only the Right.
In interviews on prime-time news broadcasts, Davidi made an effort to sidestep any questions about Bennett and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Aside from Bennett serving as prime minister, Yamina is set to be given three portfolios: Interior for MK Ayelet Shaked, Religious Services for MK Matan Kahana and apparently the Construction portfolio for Davidi.
But if Davidi rejects the post, Bennett could end up honoring his commitment to appoint the head of the Bayit Yehudi Party, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Hagit Moshe, as a minister. Bennett promised her a portfolio when she agreed to endorse his list instead of the Religious Zionist Party, where she was set to be a Knesset candidate.
Another option is to give the additional portfolio to MK Abir Kara, in which case it would have to be a socioeconomic-related ministry. Kara made a name for himself as the leader of the Ani Shulman movement that championed the rights of independent workers and small-business owners.
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