The swearing in of Israel’s government was pushed off until Sunday, to give Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu more time to shuffle the ministerial cards.
The grumbling in Netanyahu’s Likud party grew ominously louder as the hour for inducting ministers approached on Thursday night, which had already been postponed to allow for U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit the day before.
Despite having more than twice as many Knesset seats as Blue and White, the latter party will be receiving the same number of ministerial appointments, 15, leaving senior Likud MKs unfulfilled in their aspirations to serve the nation.
Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and Deputy Defense Minister Avi Dichter, who were not called in by Netanyahu to discuss their part in the emergency government, announced they would boycott the vote of confidence in the government that had been scheduled for late Thursday night.
“I guess I am not needed in the Knesset, so Shabbat Shalom,” Hanegbi wrote on social media.
“The disrespect is not only to me, but a spit in the face to 130,000 Likud members who chose me in the top ten in Likud,” Dichter said. “I didn’t even get the courtesy of a hint of a meeting” with Netanyahu, Dichter later said in an interview.
Other sidelined Likud ministers putting their thoughts in the suggestion box were Gila Gamliel and David Amsalem.
Of course, there were glad recipients as well. Netanyahu announced that outgoing Culture Minister Miri Regev will move over to Transportation and National Infrastructures Minister, and confirming reports a day before, said she will serve as Foreign Minister when the coalition rotates 18 months from now.
“Miri Regev has shown as culture minister that she knows how to lead groundbreaking reforms,” said Netanyahu, of the right-wing MK who defied the left-wing arts establishment by revoking funding of subversive productions.
Regev will also serve on the Security Political Cabinet and the Judicial Appointments Committee.
Yisrael Katz goes to Finance, regarded as one of the top positions, though in a time of economic crisis it tends to be a thankless one. He will face a swelling budget deficit and demands for more financial aid to businesses in the wake of the coronavirus shutdown. If the pandemic sees a resurgence, Katz will have his hands full.
Former Gesher MK Orly Levy-Abekasis, who joined the Likud after the last elections, was rewarded with the Community Empowerment and Advancement Ministry, invented just for her (as in “No Ministry? We Make One!”)
Levy-Abekasis’s focus in politics has been social issues, and she will assume some of the responsibilities that previously belonged to the Public Security Ministry, including state efforts to combat alcohol and drug abuse, cyber-crime against children, and urban violence. She will also oversee projects to assist the Arab community.
Benny Gantz meanwhile withdraw his resignation from his post as Knesset speaker, until the Likud lineup is complete and MK Yariv Levin will be ready to replace him.
Updated Thursday, May 14, 2020 at 2:58 pm updated info