Israel's New Government Ministers Take Up Their Posts

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked says she will work to ensure clear boundaries between the branches of government; Culture Minister Miri Regev says she will give 'a place of honor' to creativity that supports the country's Jewish heritage.

Public Security Minister Yariv Levin inspects an honor guard in Jerusalem, May 17, 2015.
Public Security Minister Yariv Levin inspects an honor guard in Jerusalem, May 17, 2015.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

The members of Israel's 34th government took up their new posts on Sunday, following the swearing-in of the government on Thursday night.

Incoming Culture Minister Miri Regev said that she understood the need to encourage culture and creativity in all fields in order to strengthen and enrich the society in all its complexity. Regev was speaking at a handing-over ceremony with her predecessor Limor Livnat.

"I have always respected the importance of a cultural and pluralistic life," Regev said. "In the name of pluralism, culture will extend to all parts of the country, to Jerusalem, Tel Aiv, Nazareth, Migdal HaEmek in the north, Yerucham and Rahat in the south, Judea, Samaria, the Negev and the Galilee."

Regev added that she would "resist any attempts to besmirch Israel's reputation, the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces and our tradition as a Jewish and democratic state."

She also vowed to "give a place of honor to local creativity that recognizes and honors our Jewish heritage."

"It's a great honor for me to stand at the head of this office," incoming Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said as she took up her new post.

"The justice system is one of the foundations of our existence as a democratic society; I believe in it with all my heart. I will not be the one who blunts its teeth. At the same time, I will ensure that those teeth don't shred the legal authority of the legislative and executive branches."

Shaked added that the "recognition of the importance of separation of powers does not belong to any specific sector and shouldn't be attributed to one side of the political map. Ensuring clear boundaries is a clear interest of all those who believe in democracy, with no difference between right and left."

She said that she would support all the elected representatives in the legislature and the executive in order to strengthen the sovereignty of the Knesset and government of Israel. At the same time, she said he was "dedicated to protecting the position of the legal system and its status we need to find the correct balance between the branches."

At the Interior Ministry, outgoing minister Gilad Erdan wished luck to his successor, Silvan Shalom, and referred to his policies regarding asylum seekers and promoting a bill to prevent illegal immigration.

"We all know who suffers from this phenomenon – the weak citizens of Israel," Erdan said. "When I took this position, the Supreme Court struck down the law passed by the government. I am happy that we were able to pass another law, which I hope the court will not strike down, and will be able to begin a new policy of removing the refugees to third countries."

Erdan, who declined to join the new government, also attacked the decision of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to transfer the Planning Authority from the Interior Ministry to the Finance Ministry.

"There is no connection between the location of the authority and the number of housing starts approved or the price of housing," Erdan said. "The transfer of the entire subject of planning could lead to disaster and seriously impact the lives of citizens of the state."

Planning is not just a question of money, Erdan said. "It's also parks, beaches and deciding the locations of polluting factories. Do we really want these things to be decided by a body that is only interested in financial issues?"

New Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev at Sunday's handing-over ceremony, May 17, 2015. (Lior Mizrachi)

Shalom said that he would work towards improving the services provided by the Interior Ministry to the citizen. "It is legitimate to question why, when you arrive at the ministry, you get number 550 and see a line from here to America," he said. "Is it because of manpower, bureaucracy, lack of budget?"

Addressing Erdan, he said: "The fact that you are not in the government weighs heavily. When someone is in politics, among the leaders of the movement, the fact that he is not among the decision makers is not natural and can even cause problems in the future I hope it is only a short intermission. You still have a lot to contribute to Israel, as I told the prime minister."

An honor guard from the police the prisons service and the fire service greeted incoming Public Security Minister Yariv Levin at the ministry's headquarters in Jerusalem.

"I take up my position after being asked by the prime minister to serve as tourism minister, the minister coordinating between the Knesset and the government and as internal security minister," Levin said.

"From my political experience I can say that deposits turn into long-term savings."

Outgoing minister Yitzhak Aharonovich said that he was "leaving with pride and much satisfaction. This is a complex and sensitive post. Together with the director-general and the heads of the services, we implemented complex processes in the law enforcement system."

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant were among the other ministers who took up their posts on Sunday.

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