Likud rebels held up swearing in Thursday, Netanyahu seeking to placate Dichter, Hanegbi, Saar

Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to meet with Likud rebels Saturday night after they vowed to boycott the vote of confidence in the government since they had not been chosen for ministerial positions during the formation of the new cabinet.

MKs Avi Dichter, Tzachi Hanegbi and Gideon Sa’ar were invited by Netanyahu to discuss the various ministerial positions still open to them Saturday night, as the prime minister sought to avoid creating dissent among the senior ranks of his party.

The large number of ministerial positions handed out to Blue and White and Labor has meant that Netanyahu has been left with too few portfolios to pay back his loyalists and placate senior Likud MKs.

On Friday therefore, MK Dudi Amsallem, a Netanyahu hyper-loyalist and previous communications minister, was named as “Minister for Liaising with the Knesset,” a role which in the past was simply part of an existing minister’s duties.

On Saturday night, Netanyahu announced that former economy minister Eli Cohen would become intelligence minister, while other appointments on Friday included MK Ofir Akunis as Minister for Regional Cooperation, and MK Yisrael Katz as Finance Minister.

One of the last remaining senior portfolios left is education minister, and MKs Nir Barkat and Yoav Gallant are thought to be the two candidates for this position.

MK Tzipi Hotovely is expected to be appointed as minister of the brand new Settlements Ministry.

MK Ze’ev Elkin is expected to remain in the Environmental Protection Ministry, while current energy minister Yuval Steinitz wishes to remain in his position.

Late Thursday night, outgoing education minister Rafi Peretz who is the sole representative of the Bayit Yehudi party finally entered the government and deserted his right-wing, religious allies in the Yamina party.

Peretz was appointed Jerusalem Affairs, Heritage and National Projects Minister, and Netanyahu lauded his entry into the government, saying “religious-Zionism has entered the government,” a dig at Yamina which has accused the prime minister of deliberately excluding it from the coalition.

As part of the coalition agreement between Likud and the Bayit Yehudi party, Peretz will continue to serve as an observer in the security cabinet, and as a full member in the ministerial committee for legislation.

The agreement also included a commitment by the Likud that the “existing custom” in which the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox, Sephardi ultra-Orthodox and religious-Zionist parties are each able to appoint a third of new rabbinical court judges would be preserved.

This allocation has traditionally been a third of rabbinical judge appointments each to United Torah Judaism, Shas and the religious-Zionist parties, although the ultra-Orthodox parties have nevertheless interfered with and vetoed the candidates of their religious-Zionist counterparts in the past.

Peretz, however, does not appear to have secured a position on the appointments committee for rabbinical court judges.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post