What are the next steps before Netanyahu’s government is sworn in?

Netanyahu’s Likud party needs to finalize coalition agreements with its right-wing partners before the January 2nd deadline.

By Pesach Benson, TPS

On Wednesday night, shortly before a midnight deadline, Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu phoned Israeli President Isaac Herzog to give formal notification that he has enough Knesset support to form a government.

That phone call created new deadlines for Netanyahu to finalize his government, and the clock is ticking. He now has until Monday, Jan. 2, to have his government sworn in.

That means Likud needs to finalize coalition agreements with its right-wing partners – Shas, United Torah Judaism, Religious Zionism, Otzma Yehudit and Noam.

The leaders of Shas, Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit insist they will not sign final coalition agreements unless the Knesset first passes three controversial bills into law.

One is the so-called “Deri bill” referring to Shas leader Aryeh Deri. He is expected to serve as Minister of both Health and Interior, and then rotate into Finance.

Deri resigned from the Knesset in January as a part of a plea agreement according to which he admitted to tax offenses. He was given a suspended prison sentence, but current laws bar him from a cabinet position for seven years.

The Knesset also needs to pass legislation allowing Religious Zionism leader Betzalel Smotrich to effectively serve as an independent minister within the Defense Ministry in order to oversee construction in Judea and Samaria. The defense minister currently oversees construction in those areas.

The third is the “Ben-Gvir bill,” which refers to the Otzma Yehudit party leader , who would serve as Minister of National Security. The expanded authority he demands over the Israel Police requires Knesset legislation.

Likud is planning a legislative blitz to get the bills passed before the deadline.