After more than a month of talks and with just one week remaining to form a new government, the Likud and Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu party reached a series of understandings last night. The agreement paves the way for Kulanu to sit in the next government.
The Likud and Kulanu negotiating teams met for the last time and prepared the final documents which will be signed by their leaders Benjamin Netanyahu and Moshe Kahlon. Under the agreement, Kahlon will as expected be appointed minister of finance and Kulanu number two Yoav Galant will become minister of construction and housing. In addition, as demanded by Kahlon, a committee for reforming the housing sector, banking and fighting poverty will be set up. The Planning Administration will also be transferred from the ministry of interior to the ministry of finance to prevent delays in Kahlon's housing plans.
However, Netanyahu refused to Kahlon's demand that Galant be a member of the Defense Cabinet.
The Likud is also close to an agreement with United Torah Judaism. Although the Likud has refused to raise child allowances retroactively from the start of 2015, the monthly payments will be raised to their previously amounts after the new government is formed.
The hike in the child allowances if retroactive would have cost an estimated NIS 1.5 billion, with a family of three children receiving an extra NIS 2,000 and a family of seven children receiving an extra NIS 4,000.
United Torah Judaism is also demanding the Health Ministry portfolio for Yakov Litzman and the chairmanship of the Knesset Finance Committee for Moshe Gafni.
The expected agreement between United Torah Judaism and the Likud has angered former minister of finance and Yesh Atid leader MK Yair Lapid. He said, "We are seeing a closing down sale of everything that is important for Israeli society at the expense of taxpayers. The prime minister has completely surrendered to the demands of a non-Zionist party at the expense of Israel's working public."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 29, 2015
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