This is news. Plus, overall, leaks out of Likud do not flatter Bibi Netanyahu.
Bayit Yehudi Scolds Netanyahu For Broken Promise on Defense Ministry Offer to Bennett — written up by Eliyahu Berkovitz.
Take a step back to yesterday and Haaretz reported another leak out of the senior Likud leadership:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told a senior Likud figure in recent days that he does not reject the idea of a unity government with Zionist Union. “Netanyahu understands the importance of a centrist coalition, both domestically and abroad.”
So now the driver behind such a move comes up, as Likud would need all 8 votes from Ha-Bayit Ha-Yehudi (Jewish Home) to reach the 61 Knesset votes needed to form a governing coalition.
The negotiations to form a coalition government for the Israeli Knesset seem to be stuck. It seems inevitable that it will not happen before the deadline next week, and Netanyahu will be forced to ask President Rivlin for an extension. The longer the negotiations drag on, the greater the fear that Netanyahu will turn to [Isaac] Herzog [of Zionist Union Party, a reincarnation of the old Labor Party] and form a unity government. …
So far, progress has been made in negotiations with parties that would willingly sit with Herzog in a government. Moshe Kahlon has even said that he would prefer a unity government. The eyes of the Israeli right-wing are glued on Naftali Bennett, since a deal with Jewish Home is the real acid test and a signed piece of paper would dispel all fears. Unfortunately, another piece to the puzzle has surface and it casts even more doubts on Netanyahu’s true intentions.
The main obstacle is [Naftali] Bennett’s insistence on being appointed a serious portfolio. This is in light of [Kulanu Party's leader, Moshe] Kahlon’s multitude of demands. Bennett has requested the Ministry of Defense, but was denied, Likud responding that he did not win enough mandates to justify receiving such a senior portfolio.
Sources confirmed a Channel 2 report that, in a November 14  meeting, Netanyahu agreed to appoint Bennett as defense minister in exchange for Bennett’s support for calling early elections…. Shortly after the verbal agreement, Netanyahu called for elections.
Also, it seems that Netanyahu now describes his promise to Bennett to be “a force majeure,” in the sense of an unanticipated Act of God.
Thing is, same time, Netanyahu already had a Defense Minister, the former Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Force, Moshe Ya'alon. Ya'alon has a bad habit of speaking truth. That gets him in trouble with the political liars.
Recent dust ups with the Americans have made Ya'alon all but untouchable in Israel.
The situation with Jewish Home fell apart both over the Defense portfolio and because Moshe Kahlon insists on getting 100% of the positions that determine the Israeli housing market: the Finance Ministry, the Knesset Finance Committee chair, and the permits offices.
Helping squeeze the housing market is a big part of what Jewish Home has been doing for its major donors. That and representing “settlers” in the Knesset.
So here the Israelis sit, almost a month after the March 17th election, and there's not quite a new government. The basic Likud RW alliance lost seats in the election, falling to 44 seats.
Even picking up the religious parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, and the center party, Kulanu, the coalition would fall apart on one loss if it was either Jewish Home or Kulanu dropping out.
A coaltion with Likud, Zionist Union, Yesh Atid, and Kulanu comes in with 75 seats. Losing either Yesh Atid or Kulanu would not force new elections. They might also pick up Meretz, from the Old Left, which would have no particular reason to stay out of government.
It is possible to govern Israel. Netanyahu tries his damnedest not to, burning governments at his fancy. This time he may be forced to do a sensible thing — a “Unity” government committed to the practical, very centerist positions that he has opposed for years.
Bully. In the Teddy Roosevelt sense.