New coalition whip and Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Tzahi Hanegbi (Likud) does not expect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new, 61-seat coalition to last its full term.
“It will be very difficult to maintain this coalition for the full four-and-a-half year term,” Hanegbi told the Meet the Press program on Channel 2 TV on Saturday night.
“Two or three years is possible, but only if we widen the government within two months,” he added.
The government was sworn in on Thursday night and the ministers took up their new posts on Sunday.
Hanegbi also said that he expected Gilad Erdan, the outgoing interior minister who declined a seat in the new government, and former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, to join the government in the near future.
“It may take a few days, maybe a few weeks, but we will find Erdan a place in the government that is suitable for him,” Hanegbi said.
Netanyahu has kept the foreign portfolio for himself, reportedly in the expectation that either Lieberman or Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog will join the government.
Hanegbi acknowledged that he had hoped to become a minister and was highly disappointed not to get a seat in the new government, though he added that he understood the constraints on Netanyahu.
“Sometimes difficulties require concessions,” he said. “If I thought only about myself I’d be raving, feeling miserable and crying foul play. But because I care about the prime minister’s success and Likud’s success, I volunteered to work hard and suffer for a year.”
According to a statement issued by Likud, Hanegbi and Minister Ofir Akunis will switch posts within a year. Akunis was appointed to a “ministerial post” in the Communications Ministry, a position that doesn’t exist according to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. Netanyahu himself has retained the post of communications minister.
“Netanyahu asked me to do a year of service in the Knesset,” Hanegbi said during the interview. “He told me something understandable – that he had no one to be coalition whip and Head of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.”