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New Panels Poll, conducted on Aug 27 2015 for Knesset Channel TV, on a range of domestic issues.

The last public opinion poll on seat distribution was back in March.

Would you like to see Ehud Barak return to politics?

Yes 11%
No 74%

Are you pleased with the conduct of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon?

Yes 27%
No 53%

Is Minister Erdan’s decision to appoint a person from outside the police as Commissioner correct?

Correct 54%
Wrong 22%

Do you think the selection of Gal Hirsch as Commissioner is a good choice?

Good 36%
Not good 21%

What grade do you give Education Minister Naftali Bennett?

Good 48%
Average 27%
Bad 11%

Are you more pleased with Education Minister Bennett or former Education Minister Piron?

Bennett 38%
Piron 22%
Equal 11%

What is the most important issue for the education system in Israel?

Educational values 50%
Reducing class size 28%
Increasing Science & Technology classes 12%
Strengthening Mathematics 7%.

Would you define Education Minister Naftali Bennett as the Education Minister of all Israeli children?

All Israeli children 45%
Mostly for the Jewish community 15%
Mostly for the religious community 14%
Mostly for the right 8%

Who would you vote for in the Labor Party primaries?:

Option A:

(All voters)

Herzog 24%
Yachimovitz 39%
Barak 14%

(Labor Voters)

Herzog 42%
Yachimovitz 40%
Barak 12%

Option B:

(All voters)

Herzog 18%
Yachimovitz 37%
Ashkenazi 22%

(Labor Voters)

Herzog 38%
Yachimovitz 37%
Ashkenazi 20%

*Question was for “Labor voters”, not “Labor party members”.

Latest Poll from Israel

New Wave Poll conducted a poll for Yisrael Hayom that was published this weekend:

It has been months since the election and we are still waiting for the first public post-election poll on seats. There have been many other types of public polls and since I haven’t posted in a while, here is the latest poll from Israel:

Who do you think is most suitable at this time to serve as Israeli Prime Minister?

39% Netanyahu

14% Herzog

13% Lapid

6% Kahlon

5% Liberman

23% Don’t Know

*Other party leaders such as Ayman Odah, Naftali Bennett and Zahava Gal-On were not polled.

Should we or should we not keep fighting the Iran deal?

76% Yes

15% No

8% Don’t Know

Do you think US President Obama is concerned or not concerned about Israeli interests?

73% Not concerned

20% Concerned

8% Don’t know

Committee Appointments and Chairs

Will update as week goes on
12 Knesset Committee Chairs

Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee – Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud)

Appropriations Committee – Moshe Gafni (UTJ)

Law, Justice and Constitution Committee – Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi)

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee – Elie Elalouf (Kulanu)

Education, Culture, and Sports Committee – TBD (Shas MK)

Science and Technology Committee – TBD (UTJ MK)

House Committee –

Internal Affairs and Environment Committee –

Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs –

Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality –

Economy Committee – Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union)

State Control Committee – Karin Elharrar (Yesh Atid)

4 Other Knesset Committee Chairs:

Rights of the Child or Public Petitions Committee Committee – Kulanu MK will serve in one

Drug and Alcohol Abuse,   Committee on Foreign Workers – Most likely will go to Opposition

 Committee Appointments

Committee Likud Zionist Union Joint List Yesh Atid Kulanu
House Committee 6 3 2 1 1
Appropriations Committee 4 3 2 1 2
Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee 5 5 0 2 1
Law, Justice and Constitution Committee 3 2 1 2 1
Economy Committee 3 3 2 1 1
Internal Affairs and Environment Committee 3 2 2 1 1
Education, Culture, and Sports Committee 3 2 2 1 1
State Control Committee 3 2 1 1 1
Labor, Welfare and Health Committee 3 2 1 1 1
Science and Technology Committee 3 2 1 1 1
Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs 1 2 0 1 1
Status of Women and Gender Equality 1 2 2 1 1
 Total 38 30 16 14 13
Committee Bayit Yehudi Shas Beitenu UTJ Meretz
House Committee 1 1 1 1 0
Appropriations Committee 1 1 1 1 1
Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee 2 0 1 1 0
Law, Justice and Constitution Committee 1 1 0 1 1
Economy Committee 0 1 0 1 1
Internal Affairs and Environment Committee 1 1 0 1 1
Education, Culture, and Sports Committee 1 1 1 1 0
State Control Committee 1 1 1 0 0
Labor, Welfare and Health Committee 0 1 0 1 1
Science and Technology Committee 0 0 1 0 0
Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs 1 1 2 0 0
Status of Women and Gender Equality 1 0 1 0 1
Total 10 9 9 8 6

Committee Appointments approved 30-2 in the Temporary Knesset Committee.

Nine of the ten factions agreed to the appointments.

Yisrael Beitenu voted against.

Yisrael Beitenu asked for a revision, claiming they are not interested in two spots on Immigration Committee.

The revision was defeated.

Update #1:

11 Security Cabinet Ministers

3 Returning Ministers

Netanyahu (Likud)
Yaalon (Likud)
Bennett (Bayit Yehudi)

8 New Ministers

Kahlon (Kulanu)
Deri (Shas)
Shaked (Bayit Yehudi)
Y. Katz (Likud)
Shalom (Likud)
Elkin (Likud)
Levin (Likud)
Begin (Likud)

Update #2 – Deputy Ministers

Deputy Finance Minister Yitzack Cohen (Shas)
Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Bayit Yehudi)
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovelly (Likud)
Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (UTJ)
Deputy Education Minister Meir Parush (UTJ)
Deputy Welfare Minister Mashulam Nahari (Shas)
Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud)

Phase Three was finally completed on May 14th 2015, almost two months after the election, following the 61-59 vote in the Knesset plenum.

Israel’s 34th Government (Netanyahu’s 4th)

20 Ministers + PM

Prime Minister + Foreign Minister + Health Minister + Communications Minister + Regional Cooperation Minister + Authority of Jerusalem Affairs Minister – Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud)

Finance Minister – Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu)

Education Minister + Diaspora Affairs Minister – Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi)

Economy Minister + Negev & Galil Minister – Aryeh Deri (Shas)

Defense Minister – Moshe Yaalon (Likud)

Interior Minister + Deputy Prime Minister – Silvan Shalom (Likud)

Justice Minister – Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi)

Transportation Minister + Intelligence Affairs Minister + Authority of Atomic Energy – Yisrael Katz (Likud)

Energy and Water + Partial authority of Strategic Affairs – Yuval Steinitz (Likud)

Housing Minister – Yoav Galant (Kulanu)

Religious Services Minister – David Azoulay (Shas)

Agriculture Minister – Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi)

Internal Security Minister + Tourism Minister + Minister Coordinating with Knesset – Yariv Levin (Likud)

Immigration & Absorption Minister + Partial authority of Strategic Affairs – Zeev Elkin (Likud)

Science, Technology & Space Minister – Danny Danon (Likud)

Welfare Minister – Chaim Katz (Likud)

Culture & Sport Minister – Miri Regev (Likud)

Senior Citizens Minister + Gender Equality Minister + Authority of Youth Department and Minority Affairs – Gila Gamliel (Likud)

Minister in Communications Ministry (under Communications Minister Netanyahu) – Ofir Akuins (Likud)

Minister without portfolio – Benny Begin (Likud)

Environment Minister – Avi Gabai (Kulanu)

Other Tidbits

Defense & Foreign Affairs Knesset Committee Chairman + Coalition Chairman Tzachi Hanegbi will swap places with Ofir Akunis as a Minister in the Communications Ministry in a year.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman (UTJ), Deputy Foreign Minister Hotovelly (Likud) and Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Kara (Likud) will serve under Health, Foreign & Regional Cooperation Minister Netanyahu, without another Minister on top of them. The other Deputy Ministers, such as Deputy Defense Minister Ben-Dahan (Bayit Yehudi), will have Ministers above them.

Likud’s  #2 Gilad Erdan refused a spot in Netanyahu’s cabinet because his requests for Foreign or Interior+Internal Security was denied.

Stay tuned for the Knesset Jeremy analysis later this weekend.

Netanyahu’s House of Cards

Spoiler Alert: Plot points from the three seasons of the UK version of House of Cards disclosed in this article.

In the British version of the now popular American television series House of Cards, Prime Minister Francis Urquhart serves as the leader of the United Kingdom for 11 years and 210 days, passing Margaret Thatcher by a single day to become the UK’s longest-serving Prime Minister.

65-year-old Benjamin Netanyahu has been Prime Minister for a collective 9 plus years. According to a study by the Israel Democracy Institute, Prime Minister Netanyahu would pass David Ben-Gurion to become Israel’s longest-serving leader on September 23, 2018. Israel will most likely hold an early election before the next scheduled election on November 5, 2019. Expect Netanyahu to focus on the earlier date.

1,233 days to go.

Prime Minister Netanyahu signed agreements with four coalition partners to reach a narrow coalition of 61 MKs to the opposition’s 59. Although navigating a narrow coalition has been done before, it is extremely difficult.

What happens when an MK is in the hospital with his wife who is going into labor? What if an MK is in the hospital for a more tragic reason such as a serious injury? What happens when an MK decides that his best friend’s daughter’s wedding is more important than waiting all night in the Knesset to vote against his ideology because of a previous coalition deal agreement?

There is no doubt that this will be a difficult coalition to manage, and it still is not clear who will be named as the coalition chairman (chief whip) who will have to answer the above questions and keep coalition MKs from flying overseas. The next coalition chairman will play an important role in the success of the next coalition. Similar to the House of Cards series, with such a narrow coalition if the person who is in charge of keeping the backbenchers in line has their own agenda it could result in an eventual leadership change.

Even with a loyal coalition chairman, the anticipated legislative deadlock between parties with polarized views on certain issues will make maintaining the coalition extremely difficult for the new appointee.  However, just like the fictional Prime Minister Francis Urquhart, Netanyahu’s undoing might come from within.

The coalition parties do not have a good reason to vote against the government for at least the next two years. They all were given the authority, responsibility, and budgets they requested.

The ultra-orthodox parties of Shas and UTJ are back from the exile of the opposition. They suffered great losses in the last Knesset and would not do anything to jeopardize the collapse of the fourth Netanyahu government, nor do they harbor the ambition to one day replace him. They both signed coalition deals that they know are once-in-a-lifetime. Opposition Leader Herzog will not offer them nearly as much as Netanyahu did.

Bayit Yehudi will be motivated to follow coalition discipline after the package they received that included the Justice and Education portfolios. Even in a scenario of new elections and additional seats, Bayit Yehudi would not be expected to receive a better deal.

Kahlon’s new centrist Kulanu Party cannot afford to topple a government before his planned reforms on housing and the banks are completed. Although Kahlon might pick a fight or two he will be bluffing, since he risks losing his constituency to Lapid in the next elections if he doesn’t deliver on his reforms, his reason for agreeing to the highly unpopular steep payday for the ultra-orthodox community.

The situation in Likud is different. While the coalition parties negotiated attractive deals they are unlikely to give up, Netanyahu will have difficulty satisfying the demands of Likud’s MKs. Interior Minister Gilad Erdan is frustrated that, as the number 2 of the party that received 30 seats, he likely will not receive a top portfolio or a promotion. Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom is done playing Mr. Nice Guy with Netanyahu and expects a top post. Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon cannot be happy that, although Netanyahu backtracked, the Prime Minister did offer Yaalon’s position to Bayit Yehudi’s Naftali Bennett before the election. Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz was reportedly furious when Netanyahu tried to give his portfolio to Shas’s Aryeh Deri a few weeks ago. Netanyahu’s top cabinet loyalist, Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, wants a promotion, and it will be difficult to find one for him. These five Likud ministers all view themselves as candidates to replace Netanyahu one day, and the Prime Minister is aware of that. If Netanyahu does not find a way to keep them happy in their next cabinet posts, it could lead to his eventual undoing.

Netanyahu plans to re-appoint Benny Begin and Tzachi Hanegbi to the cabinet, two of his previous ministers who were members of his first cabinet back in the 1990s and veteran MKs of the famous 1988 class in which the Prime Minister himself was first elected. The Prime Minister also plans to appoint five new Likud ministers from ten potential candidates. There will be disappointed Likud MKs, and some, such as Ayoub Kara, might threaten to vote against the establishment of the government. Finding appropriate jobs for the five disappointed minister candidates will be essential for Netanyahu’s survival. Many of the minister candidates might have little experience and lack the qualifications that would make them suitable for a ministry, but they insist that they are loyal and should be rewarded.

In House of Cards Francis Urquhart is always victorious against his external foes whether it be the opposition Labor Party or going head-to-head with the King. However, in the final season Urquhart chooses to bully weak cabinet members, fire his Parliamentary Private Secretary and later disrespect his Foreign Secretary Tom Makepeace by asking him to take a demotion to Education, which leads to Makepeace’s resignation. It is not external elements that becomes Urquhart’s undoing; rather, it is the cabinet reshuffle in which he promotes loyalist backbenchers with little experience who get into trouble. The disgraced Foreign Secretary who chooses to run against the sitting Prime Minister after finding skeletons in the Prime Minister’s closet eventually leads to his downfall. The crafty Francis Urquhart who had never thought Makepeace was capable of replacing him was left blind-sided.

Netanyahu seems focused on external potential Prime Minister candidates such as Isaac Herzog, Naftali Bennett, Moshe Kahlon, Yair Lapid and Avigdor Liberman at the expense of ignoring the threats from within his own party. The end of Netanyahu’s tenure as Prime Minister might begin by not promoting his current Likud ministers and leaving other Likud MKs without a spot around the cabinet table.

Although Netanyahu will not end his political career this week, the seeds will be planted with the formation of his government this week. Netanyahu is a skilled politician and will most likely find a way to form and maintain the next government for the short term. He knows how to ensure his government can survive even with one or two renegade MKs. The Israeli electorate will not vote for a Likud Party that cannibalized itself so quickly after an election and Netanyahu’s potential successors are aware of that. The question is what happens when one of those potential successors from within, or perhaps from the outside such as Gideon Saar, find a way to force an internal Likud leadership election and find support with a large number of disgruntled Likud MKs. This week Netanyahu will disappoint some of his MKs, both those looking for a ministerial promotion and those looking for a seat in the cabinet. Those who are considering running for Likud leadership will look to befriend every disgruntled Likud MK they can. Don’t expect them to wait until September 23, 2018.

When Prime Minister Netanyahu realizes that it is the Likud that will be his undoing, he might identify with Prime Minister Francis Urquhart’s quote after receiving the headcount ahead of the next leadership race.

“175 of my honorable colleagues firmly intend to vote for me, 123 are almost certainly against me. How dare they! They owe me everything. Half of them wouldn’t even have jobs let alone seats in Parliament. As if I hadn’t won three elections in a row and kept their noses in the gravy and these stuffed suits, these lumps of lobby fodder dare to raise themselves against me?”

Prime Ministers do not live forever, even if Netanyahu might think that he can.

However, a warning is in order for Netanyahu’s potential Likud challengers: In the novel version of House of Cards, despite ousting Urquhart, Makepeace fails in his attempt for Prime Minister.

Profiles of Likud Minister Candidates – A method to the madness of my wild guess scenario.

The 5 current Likud Ministers:

Gilad Erdan

Entered Knesset in: 2003

Knesset Terms: 5th

Spot on Likud List: 2nd in 2015, 3rd in 2013, 3rd in 2009

Current Title: Interior Minister

Former Titles: Communications Minister, Environment Minister, Homefront Defense Minister

Predicted Title: Internal (Homeland) Security Minister

Analysis: Netanyahu knows that it will be difficult to give the new #2 Likud the promotion he seeks in the current political atmosphere. Netanyahu is worried he might disrespect Erdan similar to the mistake he made with the previous Likud #2 (Saar). The Homeland Security Minister position allows Erdan to maintain his position in the Security Cabinet and is among the best positions available to Likud members. Erdan, who wants Foreign and is upset that he lost out on Education, might decide to fight the position. If Erdan does take the job he will be able to grab headlines as the man who brought back law and order to both the police and certain sectors and geographical locations of Israeli society.

Yisrael Katz

Entered Knesset in: 1998

Knesset Terms: 7th

Spot on Likud List: 4th in 2015, 5th in 2013, 11th in 2009

Current Title: Transportation Minister (since 2009)

Former Titles: Agriculture Minister

Predicted Title: Transportation Minister

Analysis: Netanyahu wants to stay on the good side of the internally popular minister who is also the head of the Likud Mazkirut (Secretariat). Allowing Katz to remain in the same position for a third straight term will allow him to oversee some of the finishing touches to some of his major transportation projects.

Silvan Shalom

Entered Knesset in: 1992

Knesset Terms: 8th

Spot on Likud List: 6th in 2015, 4th in 2013, 7th in 2009

Current Title: Energy & Water Minister, Negev & Galil Minister, Regional Cooperation Minister

Former Titles: Deputy Prime Minister, Vice Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Finance Minister, Science & Technology Minister, Deputy Defense Minister

Predicted Title: Interior Minister

Analysis: Netanyahu knows that after fulfilling an impressive resume that Shalom is eyeing the post of Prime Minister and because of that reason Netanyahu has been cautious of him. Interior is one of the best positions available and is one of the only top ministries that Shalom has not yet experienced. Shalom, who feels slighted, is ready to go for Foreign or bust, but Shalom might be in a pickle with the Prime Minister not giving out the portfolio. Increasing the relationship with Likud city mayors in the field is something that any potential Likud leadership challenger will find difficult to resist. Shalom would be the only Minister to serve in all four Netanyahu governments.

Moshe Yaalon

Entered Knesset in: 2009

Knesset Terms: 3rd

Spot on Likud List: 7th in 2015, 8th in 2013, 8th in 2009

Current Title: Defense Minister

Former Titles: Deputy Prime Minister, Strategic Affairs Minister

Predicted Title: Defense Minister

Analysis: Despite promising the position to Bennett before the elections, it looks like Netanyahu will offer Yaalon the job of Defense. Despite the fact that the former IDF COS has never reached the Likud’s top 5, Yaalon will most likely stay in the key top position, as no one has dared compete against him for it.

Yuval Steinitz

Entered Knesset in: 1999

Knesset Terms: 6th

Spot on Likud List: 13th in 2015, 16th in 2013, 9th in 2009

Current Title: International Relations Minister, Strategic Affairs Minister, Intelligence Affairs Minister

Former Titles: Finance Minister, Defense & Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman

Predicted Title: Communications Minister

Analysis: Netanyahu has always offered Steinitz a better job than his position has called for and this time will be no different. The coalition agreements clearly call for new powers to go to a loyalist Communications Minister who will enjoy an expanded ministry. Steinitz might ask for a second portfolio from Netanyahu that is of lesser value and he might get it.

The 6 Veteran MKs:

Benny Begin

Entered Knesset in: 1988

Knesset Terms: 5th (Did not serve in 15th, 16th, 17th and 19th Knesset terms)

Spot on Likud List: Netanyahu reserved spot #11 for him in 2015

Current Title: Returning from his second retirement

Former Titles: Minister without Portfolio that serves in Security Cabinet, Science & Technology Minister

Predicted Title: International Relations Minister, Strategic Affairs Minister, Intelligence Affairs Minister, Regional Cooperation Minister, Jerusalem Affairs Minister

Analysis: Netanyahu asked Begin back from retirement and now he must reward him with a good ministry. The idea of merging perhaps as much as five ministries into one could be the answer. Netanyahu could add Begin, using the excuse of Strategic and/or Intelligence, to the Security Cabinet to gain an extra vote. It is hard to believe that Begin is the same guy who ran against Netanyahu under the National Union flag in 1999.

Tzachi Hanegbi

Entered Knesset in: 1988

Knesset Terms: 9th (2 terms in Kadima)

Spot on Likud List: 12th in 2015, 17th in 2013, in Kadima during 2009 elections

Current Title: Deputy Foreign Minister (technically left post following Liberman resignation), Deputy Health Minister

Former Titles: Justice Minister, Health Minister, Internal (Homeland) Security Minister, Transportation Minister, Environment Minister, Minister in Prime Minister’s Office

Predicted Title: Energy & Water Minister

Analysis: Netanyahu knows that the veteran Hanegbi has been loyal and the time has come to pay him with a good ministry. Energy & Water is a large budget ministry that has traditionally went to top ministers. Hanegbi, who a few weeks earlier was calling for Foreign, would probably take it if offered.

Gila Gamliel

Entered Knesset in: 2003

Knesset Terms: 4th (did not serve during 17th Knesset)

Spot on Likud List: 14th in 2015, 20th in 2013, 19th in 2009

Current Title: Likud Backbencher

Former Titles: Deputy Youth Minister, Deputy Agriculture Minister

Predicted Title: Senior Citizens Minister

Analysis: Netanyahu promised Gamliel that she would be the next Minister appointed to the previous government and it never happened. Netanyahu knows that considering this will be her first minister job that he can give her a less glamorous ministry and she will probably take it.

Chaim Katz

Entered Knesset in: 1999

Knesset Terms: 6th

Spot on Likud List: 17th in 2015, 13th in 2013, 14th in 2009

Current Title: Labor, Welfare & Health Committee Chairman

Former Titles: Likud Backbencher

Predicted Title: Welfare Minister

Analysis: Netanyahu gave away Katz’s Committee Chairmanship to Kulanu. Katz had served three of his previous five terms as the Labor, Welfare & Health Committee Chairman. Katz has in the past declined Deputy Minister positions and is a great position to receive a portfolio considering there are not many Committee Chair positions that would be considered a promotion that are left open. Welfare seems like the most natural fit.

Ayoub Kara

Entered Knesset in: 1999

Knesset Terms: 4th (Did not serve in 17th and 19th Knesset terms)

Spot on Likud List: 24th in 2015, Did not enter Knesset in 2013, 23rd in 2009

Current Title: Returning from forced retirement

Former Titles: Deputy Negev & Galil Minister

Predicted Title: Deputy Defense Minister #2 and Deputy Minorities’ Minister

Analysis: Netanyahu knows it makes sense to appoint Kara as the only non-Jewish Minister to his government but he doesn’t plan to do so. He isn’t going to appoint the only Ethiopian MK as the Immigration & Absorption Minister either. It would be hard for Kara to refuse a Deputy Defense Minister position and control of a large budget as the Deputy of Minorities without a Minister above him. Kara, might not be satisfied and throw a fit.

Avi Dichter

Entered Knesset in: 2006

Knesset Terms: 3rd  (Did not serve in 19th Knesset, elected to both previous terms as a Kadima MK)

Spot on Likud List: #26 in 2015, Was not elected in 2013, Was elected as Kadima MK in 2009

Current Title: Returning from forced retirement

Former Titles: Internal (Homeland) Security Minister, Homefront Defense Minister

Predicted Title: Defense & Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman

Analysis: Netanyahu wants to appoint the ex-Kadima MK to a top position and it is difficult to do so with his low showing in the Likud primaries. Defense & Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman is a great offer for the former head of the Shabak (Shin Bet).

The 6 Members of the 2009 Likud Class:

Zeev Elkin

Entered Knesset in: 2006

Knesset Terms: 4th (1st term was as a Kadima MK)

Spot on Likud List: 8th in 2015, 9th in 2013, 20th in 2009

Current Title: Coalition Chairman

Former Titles: Deputy Foreign Minister, Defense & Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, House Committee Chairman

Predicted Title: Culture & Sport Minister

Analysis: Netanyahu knows that the veteran of this class has helped him move mountains over the last six years and that it is time for him to reward Elkin. Elkin would probably like the Immigration & Absorption Ministry but Netanyahu might hold on to it for now. Culture & Sport is a good fit considering the large budget ministry and the fact that Elkin has excellent relations with Shas who will Chair the Education, Culture & Sport Committee.

Yariv Levin

Entered Knesset in: 2009

Knesset Terms: 3rd

Spot on Likud List: 10th in 2015, 11th in 2013, 21st in 2009

Current Title: Defense & Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman

Former Titles: Coalition Chairman, House Committee Chairman

Predicted Title: Science & Technology Minister

Analysis: Netanyahu knows that he also owes a great deal of debt to Levin. Out of the lower class ministry positions that you would give a rookie minister the Science & Technology is a Ministry that makes sense for Levin.

Miri Regev

Entered Knesset in: 2009

Knesset Terms: 3rd

Spot on Likud List: 5th in 2015, 14th in 2013, 27th in 2009

Current Title: Interior Committee Chairwoman

Former Titles: Likud Backbencher

Predicted Title: Tourism Minister

Analysis: Netanyahu doesn’t want to make Regev a Minister but by appointing her she will be more careful with her conduct and it will add an additional Likud female minister to the cabinet table. Regev probably will not like Tourism but there are limited options as to what Netanyahu will want to give Regev.

Ofir Akunis

Entered Knesset in: 2009

Knesset Terms: 3rd

Spot on Likud List: 15th in 2015, 19th in 2013, 26th in 2009

Current Title: Deputy Environment Minister, Deputy Minister in Prime Minister’s Office

Former Titles: Finance (Kalkala) Committee Chairman

Predicted Title: Deputy Minister in Prime Minister’s Office

Analysis: Netanyahu might decide to make Akunis a minister but he knows that Akunis will probably agree to stay where he was in the previous term. It is possible he gets an additional Deputy Minister position in another ministry.

Danny Danon

Entered Knesset in: 2009

Knesset Terms: 3rd

Spot on Likud List: 9th in 2015, 6th in 2013, 4th in 2009

Current Title: House Committee Member, Likud Backbencher

Former Titles: Deputy Defense Minister, Immigration, Absorption & Diaspora Affairs Committee Chairman, Child Rights Committee Chairman

Predicted Title: Offered a Deputy Minister that he will turn down

Analysis: Netanyahu doesn’t like the Central Committee leader who challenged him for the leadership. Danon was the only Likud member of government to be fired in the previous government. Most likely Danon is offered a Deputy Minister again and declines. It is probable that Danon will keep on being one of Netanyahu’s biggest critics from within Likud.

Tzipi Hotovelly

Entered Knesset in: 2009

Knesset Terms: 3rd

Spot on Likud List: 20th in 2015, 10th in 2013, 18th in 2009

Current Title: Deputy Transportation Minister, Deputy Science & Technology Minsiter

Former Titles: Status of Women Committee Chairwoman

Predicted Title: Deputy Minister

Analysis: Netanyahu will probably not see a reason to appoint her after she failed in her attempts to get national religious figures to pressure the Bayit Yehudi during the coalition negotiations. She feels that despite finishing in the 20th position in the Likud list that she deserves a Minister position. She probably doesn’t get it but does get a nice position as Deputy Minister somewhere.

Dark Horse Candidate: Orly Levy splits with part of Yisrael Beitenu and takes the Welfare Ministry.

Additional Note: Netanyahu will announce 10 of the 12 Likud Ministers for Wed vote in order to ensure the 61 MKs needed to approve his government. He can survive with a safety net of disgruntled MKs down the road but he needs them for that first vote that approves the government. My guess is that Elkin & Levin are the two he saves for later so that they have the extra motivation.

Important Disclaimer: This is an analysis piece and is not based on anything the Prime Minister has promised, said or done. It should be expected that many of the appointments that were predicted above are wrong. The decision to make a wild guess prediction was made because I didn’t find anyone else that was bold enough to predict it.

Likud Ministers

The coalition agreement between Likud and Bayit Yehudi reveals that Likud will be appointing 12 Ministers. In my previous piece I pointed out that 17 Likud MKs are asking for a ministry. In a narrow coalition of 61-MKs every vote counts and some Likud MKs have started to wage an internal war. Certain Ministers are looking for a promotion and others are fighting to be a Minister. It looks like Netanyahu is planning on lowering the number of disappointed Likud MKs with positions such as another Deputy Defense Minister and the position of the Knesset’s Defense & Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman. There are 18 ministries currently open for the 12 incoming Likud ministers following the coalition agreements with UTJ, Kulanu, Shas and Bayit Yehudi. Expect some of the 18 open ministries to be merged.

Here is a wild prediction:

Foreign Minister – Netanyahu keeps it to himself for now

Immigration & Absorption Minister – Netanyahu keeps it to himself for now

Defense Minister – Yaalon (again)

Interior Minister – Shalom

Internal (Homeland) Security Minister – Erdan

Transportation Minister – Y. Katz (again)

Communications Minister – Steinitz

Energy & Water Minister – Hanegbi

Welfare Minister – C. Katz

Tourism Minister – Regev

Culture & Sport Minister – Elkin

Science & Technology Minister – Levin

Senior Citizens Minister – G. Gamliel

International Relations Minister, Strategic Affairs Minister, Intelligence Affairs Minister, Regional Cooperation Minister, Jerusalem Affairs Minister – Benny Begin

Defense & Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman – Dichter

Deputy Defense Minister #2 – Kara

Deputy in Prime Minister Office Minister – Akunis

Deputy Minister – Hotovely

Danon will be offered a Deputy Minister and will turn it down.

Netanyahu’s Fourth Cabinet

Prime Minister Netanyahu will work to sign coalition agreements with Kulanu, Bayit Yehudi, Shas, UTJ and Yisrael Beitenu over the next few weeks. Judging by his previous three governments Netanyahu will save the Likud ministry appointments for last. It will be a tough race since everyone is looking for a promotion following Likud’s jump from 18 Knesset seats to 30. The Prime Minister was re-elected with 15 MKs from the previous Likud list, and 3 MKs are returning vets who are all looking for top jobs. The race for the Likud ministerial slots will be intense if after signing coalition deals with five other parties the next government indeed is limited to 18 ministers as the current law mandates. Netanyahu has in the past ignored the Likud primary results and created his own formula for appointing Likud members to his cabinet.

The Likud minister candidates can be divided into four groups: The current ministers, the veterans returning from hiatus, the veterans who were not on hiatus, and the class of 2009.

Prime Minister Netanyahu was able to reduce the large number of Likud veterans seeking a portfolio by one with the reconfirmation of Speaker Edelstein on the first day of the Knesset session. The five current Likud Ministers view themselves as candidates for a promotion to top portfolios. Defense Minister Yaalon expects to keep his position despite Bayit Yehudi’s Naftali Bennett and Yisrael Beitenu’s Avigdor Liberman’s demands. Likud’s new #2, Interior Minister Gilad Erdan, who was Likud’s #3 in the previous two Netanyahu governments, is looking for a promotion, and there are only a handful of portfolios that would accomplish that such as Foreign Affairs or Justice. The other three Likud Ministers – Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz and Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom are also looking for promotions. Shalom will most likely become the only cabinet member to serve in all four Netanyahu governments.

Three veteran MKs who are now back in Knesset after a hiatus are expecting to be added to the cabinet table before other Likud MKs are considered for promotion. Although they have had their share of disagreements, Former Minister Benny Begin, who was first elected to Knesset in 1988, was brought out of retirement twice by Netanyahu and served as a Minister in Netanyahu’s first and second governments. Former Kadima Minister and security figure Avi Dichter is also expecting a ministry despite placing 26th on the Likud’s list. Another back bencher #24, former Deputy Minister and Druze MK Ayoub Kara, who was first elected to Knesset in 1999, is expecting a ministry because he is the only non-Jewish candidate vying for a cabinet position.

The next three ministerial candidates include three veteran MKs who have not taken a hiatus and played active roles in Netanyahu’s previous governments. They expect Netanyahu to follow his previous behavior of favoring seniority over the Likud primary results. Former Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, also a member of the 1988 class that included Netanyahu and Begin, is one of just four current Likud MKs to have served in Netanyahu’s first cabinet (the others are Begin, Shalom and Edelstein, then of the Yisrael B’Aliyah party). Former Deputy Minister Gila Gamliel, the only current Likud member of the 2003 class that is not a minister, expects to be appointed as the senior female Likud member. Committee Chairman Chaim Katz who has been passed up many times for a portfolio since he was first elected to Knesset in 1999 is expecting to finally join the cabinet.

That leaves six right-wing members of the Likud 2009 class: Zeev Elkin, Yariv Levin, Ofir Akunis, Danny Danon, Tzipi Hotovelly and Miri Regev. All of them expect to be ministers. Some of them have scored very high in the last two Likud primaries and others expect to be rewarded for performing the more difficult tasks of Netanyahu’s second and third governments. Judging by Netanyahu’s previous preferences his next government might not include these six right-wing Likud members.

It is not just the 2009 class who might be disappointed. Others such as Kara and Chaim Katz could also see themselves disappointed as well. With so much focus on his coalition partners and 17 of the 30 Likud MKs expecting a ministry, Prime Minister Netanyahu might have bigger headaches during his fourth government from his own party members who are not happy with their appointments.

The Opening of the 20th Knesset

At 4 PM Knesset Secretary Yardena Meller-Horowitz opened the 20th Knesset session by introducing the President. President Reuven Rivlin gave the first speech of the 20th Knesset. Afterwards he swore in the most veteran MK Amir Peretz (Zionist Union) to serve as temporary Speaker of the House. Quotes were recited from both Tehilim (Psalms) and the declaration of independence to reflect the Jewish and democratic nature of the state. Speaker Peretz swore in his 119 colleagues with two minor interruptions by MKs Aryeh Deri (Shas) and Achmad Tibi (The Joint List). The session concluded with the national anthem Hatikva. At 4:55 PM Speaker Peretz called for a 65-minute recess for the purpose of enjoying the official toast and taking the ceremonial picture.

Following the First Recess

Speaker Peretz opened the session 32 minutes late. He announced that on March 25th President Rivlin officially handed over to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the mandate to form the next government. Knesset Steering Committee Chairman Zeev Elkin (Likud) informed the Knesset of the proposed composition of the 32-member steering committee. The Steering Committee was approved in the first Knesset vote of the 20th Knesset – 107-0. Speaker Peretz announced that the Speaker of the previous Knesset, MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud), has been nominated by nine of the ten Knesset lists to serve as Speaker for the 20th Knesset. Edelstein’s nomination was approved by the Knesset vote of 103-1 with 7 abstaining MKs from The Joint List. Minister Shalom (Likud) announced that he has voted against Edelstein’s appointment by accident. The outgoing Speaker Peretz gave the gavel to the new (old) Speaker Edelstein. Speaker Edelstein gave a warm speech thanking the Knesset for re-electing him. Following the speech Speaker Edelstein called for a recess for the Steering Committee to convene and closed the 21-minute session.

Following the Second Recess

Speaker Edelstein opened the session after a 72-minute recess. Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) announced that the Government has approved that Prime Minister Netanyahu will remain the caretaker Minister is charge of seven ministries – Finance, Health, Environment, Education, Science & Technology, Justice and Welfare. Akunis announced that in three of those ministries Netanyahu has appointed Deputy Ministers to administrate those offices – Deputy Environment Minister Akunis, Deputy Health Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) and Deputy Science & Technology Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud). Steering Committee Chairman Elkin announced that his committee has agreed on two temporary 17-MK Knesset Committees that will function until the new government if formed. Elkin designated the previous committee chairs to remain in their positions – Appropriations Committee Chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) and Defense & Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Yariv Levin (Likud). Elkin announced that the Defense & Foreign Affairs Committee would meet the next day at 9:30 AM and the Appropriations Committee at 2 PM. Elkin informed Speaker Edelstein that the Steering Committee has decided to call for a Knesset Recess starting tomorrow (April 1st) until Monday May 4th. Elkin went through the procedures for the plenum and two functioning Knesset committees during the 33-day recess. Speaker Edelstein expressed hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu would form a government before the next Knesset session on May 4th.  The Speaker closed the third part of the Knesset session that lasted just ten minutes. Despite opening at 4 PM and closing at 8:15 PM the Knesset was in session for just 86 minutes.

President Rivlin conducted “Day 2” of his consultations with the remaining delegations. Kulanu and Yisrael Beitenu nominated Netanyahu. Yesh Atid did not nominate anyone. Meretz chose to nominate Herzog.

It was the kingmaker Moshe Kahlon who endorsed Netanyahu for Phase 2 earlier in the day to bring him to 61 seats. This clinched Netanyahu’s victory and took away the possibility of President Rivlin choosing Herzog or demanding a unity government. The law does not allow the President to intervene if a candidate recieves a majority. Yesh Atid decided to keep their Phase 3 options open by not nominating Herzog for Phase 2, despite promising they would nominate Herzog before the elections.

President Rivlin will formally ask Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form his fourth government when the official results are released tomorrow or on Wedensday. Netanyahu has already started holding talks with his potential coalition partners today. It is possible that coalition negotations will go on for several weeks. The next Knesset will be sworn in next week on Tuesday March 31st. Phase 3 will be conducted after Netanyahu signs enough coalition deals to produce a majority of at least 61 MKs to approve his fourth government in Knesset.

The final tally of Phase 2, Israel’s electoral college:

Netanyahu 67 (Likud, Bayit Yehudi, Shas, UTJ, Kulanu and Yisrael Beitenu), Herzog 29 (Zionist Union, Meretz), Neither 24 (The Joint List, Yesh Atid).

My 2 cents: I’ll note that before the election I predicted a Phase 2 coalition of 66 seats for Prime Minister Netanyahu that included the above lists and many of my loyal readers disagreed with me. :)


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