Coalition negotiations between Likud and the Shas party have broken down as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s team appears unwilling to accept Shas leader Aryeh Deri’s demands. The Shas wish list includes eliminating value added tax on basic goods as Deri insists he remains committed to his promise to assist 2 million Israelis living under the poverty line. Deri also wants authority in a ministry that has the authority to allocate funding for the underprivileged.
When negotiations began Deri proudly announced he would serve in two ministries as Shas would not ask to appoint more than one person to a cabinet post. He openly opposed expanding the cabinet to accommodate negotiations, but it appears this noble gesture is a thing of the past as Deri no longer objects to increasing the size of the cabinet.
In a new twist, Deri is now asking to appoint Shas MK Yitzchak Cohen as a Minister attached to the Finance Ministry, seeking to place Shas’ influence in the nation’s treasury, which is likely to be under the control of Moshe Kahlon of the Kulanu party. It remains unclear what Cohen would do in such a post other than lock horns with Kahlon, who will be running the treasury.
Deri has already asked to increase the number of ministers [not including the prime minister] from 18 to 22 as he is seeing two ministerial appointments for Shas.
As such, Deri hopes to serve as Economy Minister and Religious Services Minister while Cohen would be Minister attached to the Treasury and Yaakov Margi as Deputy Minister of Religious Services. Deri is also seeking to take control over the Ministry for Galil & Negev Development.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)