Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud supporter Amir Ohana is likely to be appointed foreign minister. according to a report on Tuesday that laid out the expected outlines Cabinet of the new Prime Minister.
The State Department had previously considered it likely that he would go to former Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer. The Biden administration reportedly sent a message saying it was in favor of Dermer being given a leadership position in the government after expressing unease about a number of the other expected appointments.
Among other expected appointments reported by Channel 12 was MK Miri Regev, who is running as head of the education ministry, and either Yoav Kisch or Ofir Akunis as speaker of the Knesset. All three are Likud MKs.
Earlier Tuesday, two senior lawmakers within the Likud party criticized Netanyahu for surrendering a number of senior positions in his expected coalition to allies outside the party.
In their stalled coalition talks, Netanyahu has reportedly reached a compromise with far-right Religious Zionism party leader Bezalel Smotrich, with the latter agreeing to drop his demand to become defense minister and take over the finance ministry instead.
According to the new report, the defense portfolio will remain with Netanyahu’s Likud party and go to Likud MK Yoav Gallant, a former IDF general.
Smotrich had demanded the Defense Ministry, which would have given him significant control over the West Bank and over the daily lives of Palestinians. Such an appointment was fiercely opposed by the United States and also faced domestic criticism, including from right-wing officials who noted Smotrich’s lack of security experience.
According to the report, Smotrich’s Religious Zionism party will still have some control over Israel’s West Bank policy and will be able to appoint a junior minister within the Defense Ministry.
Under the proposed compromise, which has yet to be confirmed by the parties, Smotrich would gain control of the finance ministry, while the other prime candidate for the job – Shas leader Aryeh Deri – would get the interior ministry, one of seven portfolios held by the two Haredi -Parties held.
Reports from public broadcaster Kan and Channel 12 said Deri would be given a “super ministry” that would effectively combine the home ministry and transport ministry into one office – to make up for the loss of the post of finance minister.
However, Deri’s appointments face legal challenges that would require a change in the country’s quasi-constitutional laws due to Deri’s recent conviction for financial crimes – his second.
Deri’s ultra-Orthodox party is also expected to host the Negev and Galilee Ministry and the Health Ministry. Kan said the party will also control the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, while Channel 12 said it does instead of this given the Ministry of Religious Services and a position in the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Haredi United Torah Judaism party is expected to hold the housing ministry and another portfolio, Channel 12 reported.
Itamar Ben Gvir, leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, is to be appointed Minister of Public Security, giving him control of the police force, and his party will also take over the Ministry of Agriculture.
Ben Gvir’s appointment as head of the Ministry of Public Security reportedly includes an agreement that the ministry will expand power over the Israel Police Force, subject to changes to a police ordinance that governs the relationship.
The proposal was raised during negotiations between Likud and Otzma Yehudit, several sources familiar with the developments told Haaretz daily. They said it is not specifically mentioned in the coalition agreements but is covered by a more general clause giving powers to the Minister for Public Safety.
Some senior former police officials have opposed the reported move, with the former Jerusalem police chief saying it could endanger Israeli democracy.
While negotiations are ongoing and appointments could still change, the framework reported by Channel 12 would remove some of the key obstacles that have prevented Netanyahu from putting together a workable coalition government since he has led a bloc of right-wing and religious parties in the US won elections on November 1st.
The Likud declined to comment on the negotiations but said some of the myriad reports were untrue.