Netanyahu Katz
Netanyahu and Katz. (photo credit:REUTERS,MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)


The ongoing dispute between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Transportation Minister Israel Katz has created a problem: Who will replace Netanyahu when he goes abroad?

The law requires the cabinet to appoint an interim prime minister when the prime minister is out of the country in case he cannot be reached. Netanyahu is due to visit the Netherlands on Wednesday.

When his government was formed, two ministers alternated as interim prime minister when Netanyahu went abroad: Silvan Shalom and Israel Katz. Shalom quit politics due to sexual harassment allegations that were later dropped.

Since Shalom’s departure, Katz has filled in every time Netanyahu has gone abroad except once, when the prime minister asked Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to receive the role.

But when Netanyahu leaves for the Netherlands, Erdan will be in London. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz will also be abroad.

So if Netanyahu would not want Katz to fill in for him, who can be interim prime minister?

The job is traditionally given to a security cabinet minister from the prime minister’s party. Besides Netanyahu, Katz, Erdan and Steinitz, there is only one Likud minister in the security cabinet: Environmental Protection and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin.

Elkin’s spokeswoman said Sunday that he had not been told to fill in for Netanyahu, but he had been asked to fill in for Liberman, who also requires a replacement when he is abroad.

So Netanyahu’s options include swallowing his pride and appointing Katz, asking Elkin, or deciding that the tradition of appointing someone from his party does not matter, and choosing instead Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon or Construction Minister Yoav Galant from Kulanu. (He will not choose one of the security cabinet ministers from Bayit Yehudi – Education Minister Naftali Bennett or Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked – because he does not like them personally, and a minister from Shas or United Torah Judaism will not be selected either.)

Sources close to the prime minister said no decision had been made yet.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post