The government failed Tuesday to approve the makeup of the Diplomacy and Security Cabinet, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asked that the decision about the forum's composition be postponed.
The law sets the maximum number of Cabinet members at half the total number of government ministers – meaning ten, in the case of the current 20-minister government. However, Israel Hayom reported Wednesday, it turns out that Netanyahu has promised 11 ministers that they would be members of the Cabinet, in the course of coalition negotiations, and in promises he made to Likud ministers.
The heads of parties making up the coalition – Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), Aryeh Deri (Shas) and Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) – are automatic members of the Cabinet.
In addition, four ministers are automatic members by virtue of their positions: the Minister of Defense, the Foreign Minister, the Justice Minister and the Minister of Internal Security. However – two of these four portfolios are unmanned at present: the Foreign Ministry and Internal Security Ministry, the latter of which is temporarily being run by Tourism Minister Yariv Levin.
Another “near certain” member of the forum is Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant of Kulanu, who party chairman Kahlon demands be placed in the forum to balance out Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who is the second member of the Cabinet from the Jewish Home.
Israel Hayom explains that three more spots are apparently reserved for Likud ministers Silvan Shalom, Yisrael Katz and Benny Begin, following commitments by Netanyahu.
In addition to all these, two more Likud ministers have been promised membership of the Cabinet: Yuval Steinitz and Ze'ev Elkin, who are close to Netanyahu and refuse to forgo what they see as their right. Together with Elkin and Steinitz, the number of ministers in the Cabinet reaches 11 – one more than the quota.
Senior diplomatic sources told the newspaper that Netanyahu will try to find a compromise between Elkin and Steinitz, or a legal solution that allows both of them to be members of the Cabinet. Another possibility is that they will join as observers, without the right to vote.
Should Likud's Gilad Erdan – who is currently disenchanted with Netanyahu – decide that he is interested in joining the government as Internal Security Minister after all, Netanyahu will have to deal with a twelfth member of the Cabinet that can only hold 10.