As Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu continues efforts to build his coalition, there are a few major stumbling blocks that must be cleared. One of them is the Ministry of Religious Services, which is on the wish list of both the Shas and Bayit Yehudi parties.
In addition to controlling state religious services, the ministry has control over appointments to the nation’s religious councils.
Bayit Yehudi wishes to maintain its control of the ministry while Shas leader Aryeh Deri wants to see the portfolio returned to Shas, which controlled it in the 18th Knesset.
One of the compromise solutions being floated is that PM Netanyahu serve as Minister of Religious Services and a deputy minster from both Shas and Bayit Yehudi would serve under him. Rumors signal Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett is willing to live with such an arrangement. It is also reported that Naftali Bennett is demanding that his party maintain veto power on all matters pertaining to state religious services.
It does appear that due to the delays in reaching agreement with potential coalition partners PM Netanyahu will next week ask President Reuven Rivlin for a two-week extension during which he will hope to sign agreements and announce his new government.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)