Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Liberman makes a campaign stop in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ma'ale Adumim on September 8. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

Netanyahu Appoints Bennett Transitional Defense Minister, Sets Deal with New Right

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has appointed the head of the New Right Party, Naftali Bennett, to serve as defense minister in his transitional government. Bennett, who was an ally of Netanyahu until the prime minister fired him from the post of education minister late in his current term, acknowledges that the position will not extend into the next government. The make-up of the next government depends on the outcome of Netanyahu opponent Benny Gantz’s ability to piece together a coalition government or negotiate a unity government with Netanyahu. But in the event there is a third election to determine the outcome of the process that began with a first round of balloting in April and a second round in September, Netanyahu’s Likud Party and Bennett’s New Right Party will form a joint faction. Not unexpectedly, rival Blue and White bloc condemned the move.  Netanyahu has been serving as defense minister as well as prime minister for the past year since firing Avigdor Liberman. On Saturday, Liberman, who has emerged as a king-maker with his party’s nine seats in parliament, said he will support the opponent of whoever – Netanyahu or Gantz – refuses to accept his compromise plan for a unity government.

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