Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday appointed New Right party leader Naftali Bennett as the country’s new Defence Minister.
The premier’s Likud party said that PM Netanyahu met Bennett on Friday, during which the former extended the offer. The appointment will be voted on at the next cabinet meeting, The Times of Israel reported.
New Right accepted the offer, said party official Ayelet Shaked, while adding to that Netanyahu had offered it a choice of two smaller ministries, from Agriculture, Diaspora Affairs and Welfare, or just Defence.
Bennett and Shaked famously gave Netanyahu an ultimatum in 2018, threatening to pull out of his government if the New Right party leader was not appointed Defence Minister, but ultimately backed down.
Gantz’s Blue and White called Bennett’s appointment “inappropriate”, accusing Netanyahu of acting out of a “narrow political and personal interest” rather than toward an inclusive unity government.
Likud has been seeking to negotiate based on a compromise proposed by President Reuven Rivlin that takes into account the possibility Netanyahu will be indicted for corruption in the coming weeks.
Netanyahu currently heads a provisional caretaker government, after he failed twice to form a coalition following two general elections held on April 9 and September 17, respectively.
The mandate to form a government has passed to Benny Gantz, head of the centre-left Blue and White party which gained 33 seats in the second elections.
If Gantz fails to form a unity government together with the Likud, elections may soon be held in Israel for the third time.
On Friday, the Blue and White party lashed out the move as a “cynical ploy” by Netanyahu to hang on to power.
Taking to Twitter, senior Blue and White MK Ofer Shelah tweeted, “Netanyahu continues to mortgage every position and every consideration to his bid for immunity,” while referring to Netanyahu’s efforts to avoid indictment in three corruption cases.
(With inputs from agency)