Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has chosen the leader of the allied New Right party to be defence minister in his interim cabinet, his party, Likud, said.
“Netanyahu offered [Naftali] Bennett the office of defence minister and he accepted. His nomination will be put to debate at the next government sitting [on Sunday]”, the statement read.
Likud and New Right have emerged as the biggest faction in the 120-seat parliament with a combined 35 members. Bennett’s nomination will be voided if a new government is sworn in.
The centrist Blue and White party of Netanyahu’s rival, Benny Gantz, came first in the September election with 33 seats and has until November 20 to form a governing coalition. A third snap election is likely if he fails.
In December 2018, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Education Minister Naftali Bennett said they were quitting the Jewish Home party to form the New Right Party. The announcement reportedly prompted a backlash from right-wing parties and a warning from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud about a split in the right votes ahead of the snap election.