Israeli Cabinet Appoints Two New Ministers, Bringing Total to 28

Eli Avidar, who has been a thorn in the coalition's side, made minister without portfolio, while an ex-deputy army chief Yair Golan named deputy economy minister

Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov
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Eli Avidar at the Knesset, earlier this month.
Eli Avidar at the Knesset, earlier this month.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov

The cabinet approved on Sunday the appointment of Yisrael Beiteinu lawmaker Eli Avidar as minister without portfolio, and of Meretz lawmaker Yair Golan as deputy economy minister.

Avidar, who has long been a thorn in the side of the new government, and Golan, a former deputy chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, bring the number of cabinet ministers to 28.

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Last month, as the parties divvied up portfolios, Avidar declared that he would not commit himself to the coalition until he received a ministerial portfolio. While Avidar vowed he would not cause the downfall of the coalition, the government has been pursuing a resolution to its conflict with him before the crucial budget vote in November. 

Yair Golan and Yair Lapid in the Knesset, earlier this month.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

If Intelligence Affairs Minister Elazar Stern is appointed chairman of the Jewish Agency and resigns from the government, Avidar will replace him. He is expected to resign from the Knesset in keeping with the so-called Norwegian law, which allows ministers and deputy ministers to give up their Knesset seat to make room for the next person on their party’s election roster.

This step conforms to a request by Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman and Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman and the other coalition leaders. Avidar’s rejection of Lieberman’s offer of a ministerial role within the Finance Ministry was a major source of tension between them.

Golan, who has been appointed chairman of the Knesset Immigrant Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, will pass on this post to an opposition lawmaker. 

Yesh Atid Chairman and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who is also the alternate prime minister, previously said he would have a maximum of 18 ministers.

Last month, however, Lapid said: “I failed in limiting the number of ministers in the government. I have no way to excuse that. I wanted a small government with a small number of ministers. This is not good, [but] it’s part of what allowed us to establish the government."

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