Last Likud Holdout Joins Government

YERUSHALAYIM -
Likud MK Gilad Erdan (R), with Ofir Akunis (L). (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud MK Gilad Erdan (R), with Ofir Akunis (L). (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu managed to woo the Likud’s disgruntled No. 2 man, Gilad Erdan, into the government on Monday, in a deal that will make Erdan minister of internal security and strategic affairs, with an expanded budget.

Erdan, who had sought the coveted Foreign or Interior ministries, settled for the lesser post, though he also extracted other concessions from the prime minister, including a seat in the Security Cabinet.

The Cabinet ratified the appointment by phone on Monday.

Due to restrictions on cabinet size, Erdan’s entrance will force the departure of Benny Begin, a minister without portfolio.

Another Likud MK who will lose out is Strategic Affairs and Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud).

Elkin registered his protest by refusing to participate in the vote on Erdan’s appointment.

“How would you expect a minister to react when he is being fired? I’ll react as a minister who gets fired,” Elkin told Haaretz.

Israel’s police will reportedly receive hundreds of millions of shekels beyond its current budget, a result of Erdan’s insistence that he could not do the job properly without more resources.

Also on Monday, Netanyahu announced the appointment of Dore Gold as director general of the Foreign Ministry.

Gold, a former ambassador to the United Nations, replaces Nissim Ben-Sheetrit, a former ambassador to Japan, and an appointee of ex-Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The American-born Gold was Netanyahu’s foreign policy adviser in 1996-1997 during the premier’s first term in office. Subsequently, Netanyahu sent him to the United Nations, where he served until 1999.