Likud MK Gilad Erdan was sworn in Monday night as public security, strategic affairs, and public diplomacy minister, after the Knesset approved his appointment by a vote of 58-55.
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Erdan’s appointment was approved after he backed off his earlier demands, which included the foreign affairs portfolio or a portfolio that would combine the interior and public security functions. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to channel an additional sum of hundreds of millions of shekels to the Public Security Ministry, as well as giving Erdan the Strategic Affairs Ministry.
The transfer of the strategic affairs portfolio opened a new front between Absorption Minister Zeev Elkin, who had originally been granted that responsibility, and Netanyahu. Elkin said he would not object to Erdan’s appointment, but demanded the Jerusalem affairs portfolio instead.
“How would you think a minister that was fired would act?” Elkin told Haaretz. “I will act like a minister who’s been fired.” Sources in Likud believe that Netanyahu will have to compensate Elkin for undermining his authority.
With Elkin’s appointment, the total number of ministers temporarily reached 23. Benny Begin is expected to resign from the cabinet, so that the number of Likud ministers will not exceed 12.
Within Likud Erdan’s decision was greeted with mixed feelings, with one Likud minister criticizing his colleague’s decision to cave in.
“It isn’t clear what Erdan achieved in his confrontation with Netanyahu,” he said. “Netanyahu’s original offer was better and included the sports portfolio. In the end, though, it’s better that he be in the government than a plain MK. No one will remember any of this in two to three months anyway.”
On the other hand, another senior official said, “Erdan flexed his muscles in the right place and made sure to signal to Likud voters that he is a senior and central minister, even if he didn’t get the job he’d dreamed of.”
On his Facebook page, Erdan wrote, “That since I’ve been promised the appropriate tools, I will have the ability to work and effect change.” He promised to make “a real change in the police, to increase enforcement and deal with existing ailments.”
Erdan will also have the authority to deal with battling international boycotts and the delegitimizing of Israel. “As part of my job I will contend in the international arena with actions against the State of Israel, like the attempts to attack us in the International Criminal Court at the Hague, the Palestinian attempts to keep Israel out of FIFA, and more,” he said.
During the debate that preceded Erdan’s appointment, opposition MKs expressed their objections. “We are seeing here today an unacceptable farce of a government trying to juggle for its very existence,” said Meretz chairman MK Zehava Galon. “This is repulsive conduct.”