Likud-Zionist Union unity deal back on the cards


A deal to bring Israel's main opposition party into the government is back on the cards, as the cloud of scandal starts to lift from opposition leader Isaac Herzog.

The unity agreement between Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud and the main opposition party, Zionist Union, was put on ice in March when Mr Herzog was named as a suspect in a corruption investigation.

Devastating to Zionist Union, it was also a blow to Likud, which is desperate to bolster its tiny Knesset majority.

The police file on Mr Herzog, which concerns alleged irregularities in the way his leadership campaign was funded, is now expected to be closed and the coalition deal is understood to be on the table again. To the dismay of current coalition parties who stand to lose out if the deal is closed, Likud is believed to be trying to lure Zionist Union by offering ministerial positions and roles on parliamentary committees.

These include the post of justice minister, which is currently held by the right-wing Jewish Home. Naftali Bennett, leader of Jewish Home, reportedly said he would leave the coalition if his party lost the justice portfolio.

Mr Herzog's associates have denied rumours of coalition talks, but analysts say that he stands the best chance of political survival if he is part of the government. "He'll do everything in order to survive and, if a partnership with the current government preserves him, he'll sign up," said Ephraim Yaar, political scientist at Tel Aviv University.

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