Defense Ministry Highly Sought as Israeli Coalition Talks Begin in Earnest

Likud Wants to Keep Major Portfolios in Place

While Likud has already claimed victory in this week’s election, getting enough partners on board for a coalition government is no easy task, with early talks indicating several factions want the defense portfolio.

Avigdor Lieberman promised his supporters he’d take the portfolio after the election, and wipe out the entire Gaza Strip. A poor election-day showing doesn’t appear to have changed his mind, and he’s still demanding the spot.

So is fellow hawk Neftali Bennett, who is demanding the spot and also wants Netanyahu to assure him that Palestinian statehood won’t happen during the current coaltiion.

Moshe Kahlon is quite happy to be promised the Finance Ministry portfolio, but also wants one of his party’s MPs to get the defense portfolio, reflecting their strong showing in the vote and warning Netanyahu that their backing is not assured.

Likud wants the current major portfolios to stay in place, meaning Ya’alon would remain DM, Lieberman would remain FM, and Bennett Economics Minister. Finance Ministry is the only major spot changing hands, from Yair Lapid, who is headed to the opposition, to Kahlon.

That’s Likud’s ideal at least, but given the long road to getting a 60 seat majority, expect those plans to change and for several different proposals to be floated before everyone is satisfied.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.