Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu will meet Avi Maoz, head of the far-right Noam party and sole lawmaker, on Tuesday after the anti-LGBT party threatened to boycott the coalition.
Running on a united far-right platform with Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudite, Noam had demanded the right to negotiate on separate terms for a seat in the 64-member right-wing coalition that won Israel’s election on November 1.
According to Likud sources, Maoz’s demands for joining the coalition have not yet been announced, and Maoz’s office declined a request for details on them.
According to a source close to Maoz, as of Tuesday morning, Maoz was willing to hold separate talks with Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudite, but had not been invited to meet with Netanyahu, and the party was considering opposing the coalition. government from the right wing.
The invitation to meet with Netanyahu seems to have arrived soon after.
To retain the right-wing vote in what was expected to be a tight election, Netanyahu hand-stitched Noam as a far-right religious Zionist-Otsma Yehudite.
Mao’s anti-LGBT stance made headlines, and within days of Religious Zionism becoming the second-largest party in the Netanyahu-led bloc, he legalized a ban on pride parades and said he would restore banned and largely denied conversion therapy and roll back reforms. Opened the market for kosher certification and promoted “Jewish education” in public schools.
Likud finds itself in the awkward position of being the most left-wing member of the coalition it is forming. The party has a prominent gay lawmaker, and several of its MKs have rejected the extremist ideology of some of their far-right partners. A Noam party source speculated that there may be forces within Likud that want Maoz out of the coalition.
However, Likud sources “reaffirmed their willingness to save [Maoz] join the coalition.”
On Sunday, Netanyahu met with Bezalel Smotrich, head of the Religious Zionist Party, Yitzhak Goldknopf, head of United Torah Judaism, Moshe Gafni, head of Degel HaTorah, and Shas leader Aryeh Deri.
On Monday, Netanyahu met with Otzma Yehudite leader Itamar Ben Gvir, who is holding separate talks with Netanyahu but reaffirmed his commitment to working with Smotrich before finalizing the coalition.
Netanyahu, who has been in the opposition since June 2021, is reportedly pressing his partners to quickly form a government and then work out the details. Smotrich, who is wary of relying on loose promises, rejects delicate negotiations aimed at dividing the portfolio of ministers and reportedly wants to close a policy coalition agreement before entering the government.
Coalition talks, led by Netanyahu’s right-hand man Yair Levin, are accelerating and could give the Likud party more power than first thought.
Although Likud wants to keep the ministries of defense, foreign affairs and finance among its members, Smotrich wants defense and finance, emphasizing that the latter is more likely.
Ben Gvir, who has led a far-right campaign to deport “disloyal” Israelis, loosen the military’s open-fire rules to combat Palestinian violence, and improve Israeli governance and personal security, has made demands on the Ministry of Public Security. more likely. And first-time lawmaker Yitzhak Wasserlauf demanded Ben Gvir’s second ministry.
There are reports that Shas wants the Ministry of Interior among other demands.
United Torah Judaism is expected to win back Gafni, the powerful head of the Knesset Finance Committee, and a deputy minister to lawmakers whose rabbis are ideologically barred from receiving ministries.