Coalition MKs Vie for Interior Ministry

Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri. (Miriam Alsterl/Flash90)
Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri. (Miriam Alsterl/Flash90)

In the wake of the resignation of Interior Minister Silvan Shalom due to ethics charges, the competition for his job was on this week.

The two main candidates appear to be Shas chairman Aryeh Deri and Culture Minister Miri Regev (Likud), according to Ynet.

Likud officals were quoted as saying that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been holding consultations over the past 24 hours to decide who will be the next interior minister.

Deri, who held the coveted position in the past, seemed to be the frontrunner, though Regev, a popular politician with considerable clout, cannot be discounted.

The Shas leader can lay claim to Interior as compensation for resigning from his post as economy minister to allow Netanyahu to take the portfolio and sign the authorization for the natural gas deal, according to political sources.

Likud officials said that “If Deri wants [the interior ministry], it’s his.”

Deri himself has not commented.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation Ayoob Kara has also signaled Netanyahu that he expects a ministerial appointment, because he is the oldest serving Likud member. On the other hand, Minister Yariv Levin, Minister of Tourism and a confidant of Netanyahu, is also reportedly hoping for an “upgrade” to a more senior position.

The interior ministry has temporarily been transferred to Netanyahu, who also holds the foreign, communications, regional cooperation and economy portfolios.

Sources close to Regev said she expects the prime minister to appoint her as the interior minister, or to another senior position that becomes available. Such a move also has widespread support in the Likud ranks and among Likud mayors.