Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapida choice between the foreign affairs or finance portfolios, sources close to the two said.
The two met at the prime minister’s residence on Thursday away from the public eye in a meeting that kicked off the coalition negotiations.
In a post on his Facebook page, Lapid said in response: “What’s happening now is neither a coalition negotiation nor the beginning of one. What’s most important is patience.”
He further added, “I didn’t come for a (ministry) seat, because I already have one.”
Sources close to Netanyahu and Lapid said that the Yesh Atid chairman was also offered the defense portfolio but that he has no interest in it. Lapid is being pressured not to take the finance portfolio in light of the current economic situation and the deep budget deficit, sources said.
Nevertheless, it was noted that should he accept the proposal he may bring in an outside candidate. Conversely, it appears that Lapid is not so keen on accepting the foreign minister position.
Political analyst Sima Kadmon wrote in her Yedioth Ahronoth column that the Yesh Atid chairman finds the housing or internal affairs portfolios more appropriate in light of his party’s campaign.
Meanwhile, Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman is signaling he may be willing to forfeit the top diplomat post.
“The foreign affairs portfolio does not have my name on it,” he said in interviews Thursday. Senior officials at the Likud Beiteinu said that in fact he has no choice in the matter.
Lapid on his part is considering demanding to reduce the number of Likud-Beiteinu ministers, a move which would force Netanyahu to let go of several incumbent ministers.