Despite a High Court opinion that appointment of ministers by a caretaker government “required caution,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday filled several open ministerial posts that he had vacated – also at the urging of the High Court, which ruled that, under threat of indictment, Netanyahu could not serve in posts other than prime minister’s while enjoying parliamentary immunity.
Tzachi Hanegbi will take over the post of agricultural minister, stepping in for David Bitan, Netanyahu’s original choice, after farmers sharply criticized that choice, leading Bitan to turn down the post. Hanegbi is already minister for regional affairs. Analysts said that one reason Netanyahu appointed him to the post was due to his good ties with farmers, among whom the Likud is seeking additional votes.
Also getting an additional post will be Ofir Akunis. Already science and technology minister, Akunis will now take on the Welfare Ministry as well. Deputy Minister Tzippy Hotovely will take over the reins of the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, while Shas’s Rabbi Meshulam Nahari will be appointed deputy labor and welfare minister, stepping down from his role as deputy interior minister.
In a petition brought against the appointment of Naftali Bennett as defense minister, the court said that “we cannot accept a situation where a temporary government appoints ministers without the approval of the Knesset. The government is required to act cautiously in its appointments, and not take advantage of the situation to appoint ministers just to increase the size of the government.” With that, the court did not rule that Netanyahu could not appoint new ministers.