Equality in Government? Only 4-5 Women Ministers in Netanyahu Coalition Despite Rise in Female MKs

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Based on the emerging picture of the new government, only four or perhaps five women will get ministerial positions, despite the significant increase in the number of female Knesset members. The same goes for ministers of non-Ashkenazi origin.

The incumbent culture and sports minister, Limor Livnat is expected to get a portfolio on behalf of Likud. Knesset member Gila Gamliel (Likud) might also get a portfolio, but this is less likely to happen.

MK Yael German will serve as a minister on behalf of Yesh Atid and the current immigrant absorption minister, Sofa Landver, of Yisrael Beiteinu is expected to continue serving in that position. MK Tzipi Livni will serve as justice minister.

However, MK Faina Kirshenbaum of Yisrael Beiteinu apparently won't get a ministerial appointment after all, even though party chairman Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced she would be minister of agriculture. Because of coalition-building constraints, she may have to content herself with the position of deputy minister.

Meanwhile, in Likud circles a battle over the position of senior female minister has been escalating: MK Tzipi Hotovely, the most popular female candidate in the party primary, on Sunday complained about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s intention to leave Livnat in her seat.

“Limor Livnat came in at the bottom of the slate,” Hotovely told Galei Yisrael Radio. “She has given many years of good service to the state but it isn't that 100 votes separated me from Limor Livnat. We were separated by thousands of votes.”

Netanyahu's decision to pick the veteran minister Livnat rather than a younger candidate reflects his lack of confidence in the outcome of the party primary, Hotevely continued. “In my opinion,” said Hotevely, “this is a mistake. It is wrong to cling to the old political system of recycling the whole list of ministers.”

The outgoing government has three female Knesset members: Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat, Agriculture Minister Orit Noked and Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver.

In addition, the so-called "ethnic genie" – sectorial tensions – could well pop out of the bottle for another round. It seems that with Shas relegated to the opposition, only three or four ministers in the new government will be from non-Ashkenazi ethnic communities.

Of them, only one or two will be from Likud: current Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom and perhaps Gila Gamliel, in addition to MK Eli Ben Dahan from Habayit Hayehudi and Meir Cohen from Yesh Atid.

“The new government will have the smallest number of Sephardi ministers ever,” a Likud source remarked. “Netanyahu knows well that they're sensitive to this issue in Likud. He realizes that without Shas, he has a problem on the ethnic issue that needs to be solved.”

Tzipi Hotovely thinks it inappropriate that Limor Livnat, who got the least primary votes among the female candidates, should be a minister again.Credit: Shiran Granot
Social Equality Minister Gila GamlielCredit: Shiran Granot
Tzipi Hotovely thinks that Limor Livnat, pictured here, should give way to a younger woman.Credit: Eti Korkus

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