Gantz’s Party Likely to Get Defense, Justice Portfolios in Netanyahu Government

Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc to retain health and finance portfolios; Gantz to become prime minister in September 2021, according to likely coalition agreement

Gantz and Netanyahu at the Knesset with Interior Minister Arye Dery and Hosen L'Yisrael lawmaker Gabi Ashkenazi, January 24, 2020
Emil Salman

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hosen L’Yisrael leader Benny Gantz near an agreement on a joint government, the question of what portfolios each of them will be able to fill is beginning to clear up.

Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc will retain the finance, health and education portfolios. Gantz’s party will take the defense and justice portfolios, as well as the Foreign Ministry. The Public Security Ministry, too, will remain in the hands of Netanyahu’s Likud, with Culture Minister Miri Regev taking that portfolio.

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Interior Minister Arye Dery, from Shas, is to keep that position, as is Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of United Torah Judaism. 

After all-night deliberations, both parties said Sunday morning that talks would continue in an effort to sign an agreement today.

Netanyahu’s bloc will also keep the transportation, energy, environment, housing, Negev and Galilee development and religious affairs portfolios.

Gantz’s party will also head the following ministries: communications; economy; labor; culture and sports; immigration and absorption; tourism; and science and technology. The education portfolio is to go to someone from the Yamina party, whose chairman is former Education Minister and current Defense Minister Naftali Bennett

The Knesset speaker is expected to be a member of Likud, but with Gantz having veto power and the ability to prevent Yuli Edelstein from returning to the position. 

At this point, the new government's platform positions will deal solely with the coronavirus threat. 

Gantz blindsided many of his voters and parliamentary allies last week when he nominated himself and was elected to the role of Knesset speaker. The maneuver, supported by Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc, caused the splitting of Gantz’s Kahol Lavan party, with its Yesh Atid component vowing to remain in the opposition.

On Saturday, it was reported that Gantz and Netanyahu would advance legislation to allow Netanyahu to serve in government despite his indictment in three corruption cases, even after he relinquishes the post of prime minister in 18 months.

The move is at the center of coalition negotiations for arotating unity government in which Netanyahu will first serve as premier and will then become deputy.

The new legislation modifies the position of deputy prime minister to be similar in authority to a minister without portfolio, but also possess veto power on key appointments and the ability to serve despite criminal charges.