Within the next two days, the ministers will know their fates. The main battle will be within Likud-Beytenu. The problem there is twofold. First, which ministerial posts will Likud members receive? And second, what is the nature of the relationship between Likud and Yisrael Beytenu?
As the leader of one of the components of the ruling faction, Yisrael Beytenu's Avigdor Lieberman has laid claim to the foreign affairs portfolio. But other than this, Yisrael Beytenu is fighting for meaningful ministerial posts like any other coalition partner. This is Yisrael Beytenu's attempt to have it both ways.
Likud will have seven ministerial positions (eight if you count Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu), one less than it has now. It could be that Yuli Edelstein took himself out of the running for a ministerial post when he announced he would run against Reuven Rivlin for the role of Knesset speaker. But even if Netanyahu doesn't bring any new faces into the government, distributing the portfolios will be a headache.
Would Lieberman want to make things easier for Netanyahu? The current assumption is that Yisrael Beytenu will get three ministerial positions and wait to see how Lieberman's trial turns out. This would require Netanyahu to serve as foreign minister for many months. This could be done, but it wouldn't be optimal. Some out-of-the-box thinking is required. Lieberman could alleviate Netanyahu's headache by agreeing to have Likud's Silvan Shalom, who has a past stint as foreign minister under his belt, return to the office, which he knows well. Under the agreement, Lieberman would immediately replace Shalom as foreign minister if Lieberman was either acquitted or convicted without a designation of moral turpitude.
Such an agreement wouldn't solve Likud-Beytenu's portfolio shortage, but it would make things easier for Netanyahu.
On Saturday night, representatives of the parties that will comprise the coalition met to discuss what the government's guidelines would be. But in reality, they bypassed that hurdle and discussed the distribution of ministerial portfolios.
In the future, political science students will study the recent coalition negotiations. But for now, the negotiations have produced a political reality. If the sides want to promptly finish the process, which they have described as disgusting and unseemly, they should add the deputy ministerial posts to the mathematical equation. The ratio of ministers to MKs is 1:3, but some numbers (like 19 or 20) can't be divided by three. When this occurs, the numbers can be rounded off with deputy minister posts. Everything should be wrapped into one neat package.