Ministerial Shakeup Expected After Pesach

Prime Minister Bimyamin Netanyahu. Photo by Marc Israel Sellem/POOL
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

While MKs and ministers, like everyone else, were enjoying chol hamo’ed and the upcoming end days of Pesach, they were also preparing to get back to work – and some of those ministers will be getting new jobs, government sources said.

According a report in business daily Calcalist, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is set to transfer some departments to the jurisdiction of Welfare Minister Haim Katz. Among his new responsibilities will be the Employment Service – with an attendant additional NIS 2.5 billion in funding. The Service had originally been a part of the Welfare Ministry, but had been taken away from that post by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in order to build a portfolio for Ehud Olmert in 2001.

That ministry, currently known as the Economy Ministry, is being run by Netanyahu himself, who took it over after the resignation of Aryeh Deri as head of that office. According to the report, Netanyahu is likely to appoint current Tourism Minister Yariv Levin to that post. However, the report said, it is not clear that Levin will accept the appointment, even though the Economy Ministry carries more “ministerial prestige” than Tourism.

If he does accept, the new Tourism Minister is likely to be Tzachi Hanegbi, with the appointment completing his “rehabilitation” as a full Likud member after he jumped to Kadima during Sharon’s tenure. Hanegbi is currently chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, as well as chairman of the coalition. If he does become Tourism Minister, those jobs will be up for grabs as well. MK Avi Dichter is interested in the committee chairmanship, as is MK Anat Berko, a close confidante of Netanyahu. Also interested in the post is MK Benny Begin, who had been appointed a Minister without Portfolio, but turned down the job.