Netanyahu Keeps Economy Portfolio, Mulls Reshuffle

YERUSHALAYIM -

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu became Economy Minister by a vote of the Cabinet on Sunday after his 90-day term as acting minister expired.

Netanyahu took the post on a temporary basis after Shas leader Arye Deri relinquished it in November. That allowed Netanyahu to authorize the natural gas agreement without the approval of the Antitrust Authority, which Deri had declined to do because it entailed the unprecedented use of ministerial powers.

Deri has since been appointed Interior Minister, though a petition to rescind the appointment is scheduled to be heard by the High Court on February 9.

Netanyahu has promised to reassign portfolios to Likud higher-ups, but since he has not made a decision on who will get what, he had to ask the Cabinet to approve his formal appointment to Economy, The Jerusalem Post reported.

A source close to Netanyahu indicated that a decision was in the works. Tourism Minister Yariv Levin is considered the leading candidate for the Economy portfolio, and coalition chairman Tzachi Hanegbi will likely be the next Tourism Minister.