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Likud mulls a ‘Putin plan’ to keep Netanyahu in charge

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The so-called “change bloc” has reached an advanced stage of negotiations to form a “national unity government” straddling left, right and center.

The formula is taking shape. Yamina chair Naftali Bennett acknowledged in a Facebook post on Friday that the government under consideration won’t advance reforms of the legal system or sovereignty over the West Bank, both issues he has championed in the past. Everyone will get something, but no one will get everything they want.

Based on the state of the talks at the moment, Naftali Bennett would serve as prime minister for the first two years, Yair Lapid as alternate prime minister and foreign minister, Gideon Sa’ar as justice minister, Benny Gantz as defense minister, and Avigdor Liberman as finance minister, and the remaining senior posts — education, interior, public security, health, and infrastructures — would be parceled out by Labor’s Merav Michaeli and Meretz’s Nitzan Horowitz.

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At 58 seats, this new government wouldn’t have a majority in the 120-member Knesset. It would have to rely on outside support from the Arab-majority parties Ra’am and the Joint List, and possibly also United Torah Judaism in exchange for leaving its chairman, MK Moshe Gafni, as head of the Knesset Finance Committee.

Though things seem to be falling into place for the new coalition, it’s far too early for the prospective new ministers to celebrate. For a start, leaders of the “change bloc” have not been tasked with forming a government. The mandate to do so, for now, belongs to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid at the Channel 12 “Influencers Conference” in Jerusalem on March 7, 2021. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP)

The remaining nine days of Netanyahu’s mandate from the president are extremely delicate for the tentative and ideologically disparate coalition that seeks to replace him. Netanyahu is famed for his political guile and will do his utmost to prevent the formation of a coalition that ends his current 12-year consecutive run as prime minister. Meanwhile, some in the “change bloc” — the parties opposed to the prime minister — believe the only reason Bennett is speaking to them is to improve his negotiating position with Netanyahu.

Two senior MKs from the change bloc parties told The Times of Israel on Saturday that despite the initial agreements, they don’t see........

© The Times of Israel

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