Bennett is the big winner
A coalition is on the way and Bennett’s party is en route to having a major influence on policy.
First, we have the economy. Though Bennett did not receive the Finance Ministry he so coveted, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry is the key place to pass a law to lower market concentration, which he touted throughout the campaign. He even changed the name of his portfolio to the Economic and Trade Ministry in order to get credit for reforms he is sure he will bring. On top of that, Bayit Yehudi has the uber-influential Knesset Finance Committee, which has the political cache and power of a ministry.
Second, we have settlement construction.
MK Uri Ariel will be the housing and construction minister, which means not only can he implement the party’s policy to lower housing prices, he can work toward building thousands of new homes over the Green Line.
Next, there’s religion. MK Eliahu Ben- Dahan is going to be deputy religious services minister with no minister above him (Bennett holds the portfolio, but plans to give Ben-Dahan free rein).
In other words, he’s the minister, with a lower salary and less staff. However, he has more responsibilities now, as conversion issues, yeshivot, burial societies and the Chief Rabbinate will all be under his authority. He’ll be able to overthrow the haredi monopoly in all those areas.
If that’s not enough to make the haredi parties angry, Bayit Yehudi will also lead a committee to draft a bill requiring the ultra-Orthodox to enlist or do civilian service.
Of course the haredi press is cursing Bennett now, but they forget that he first offered Shas an alliance like the one he has with Lapid, and was rejected.
Plus, Bayit Yehudi sided with Likud Beytenu in working to make the agreement on equality for the burden in national service less drastic, and more “liveable” for the haredim. “You’re my brothers,” he said in a YouTube video meant to calm down the wave of vitriol from the haredim, which didn’t quite work.
As for his other “brother” Netanyahu, it looks like they mostly patched up their relationship – unless you believe some nasty rumors about the prime minister’s wife standing in the way. The two reportedly speak to each other in English, as in the “good old days” when Bennett was Netanyahu’s employee.
Let’s face it, Mishal probably owes Bennett a lifetime supply of felafel. It’s understandable why the reporter thought he’d win the bet, but the Bayit Yehudi leader is a political underdog who made it bigger than many would have believed possible.