Netanyahu's Lawmakers Must Now Vie for Seats in a Crowded Cabinet

Netanyahu's party has 15 ministers in the outgoing government. In the incoming coalition, they'll have a bit fewer. These are the MKs hoping to get their hands on portfolios

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, flanked by Likud MKs, at a campaign event during the last round of elections in Ramat Gan, February 29, 2020.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, flanked by Likud MKs, at a campaign event during the last round of elections in Ramat Gan, February 29, 2020.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

>> UPDATE: Bennett's right-wing party: We will not join 'leftist' Netanyahu government

A forum of senior Likud members will meet this week at the Prime Minister’s Residence to find out which of them gets a cabinet appointment in the new government.

The pressure is high. For a party in power for the past 11 years, with 36 Knesset seats, there are not enough portfolios for all the top members and no amount of creativity can satisfy them all.

Likud has 15 ministers in the outgoing government. Assuming that Yamina gets two cabinet appointments and Orli Levi-Abekasis gets one, the entire Likud group will receive just nine, plus the role of Knesset speaker. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be able to name two ministers without portfolio at a later time.

The following is a summary of Likud lawmakers and their statuses:

Yuli Edelstein: a former Knesset Speaker for seven years, and sees himself as having personally helped oversee the formation of a unity coalition. He expects Netanyahu to stand by his side as he stood by the prime minister in recent months. Kahol Lavan isn’t willing to consider restoring Edelstein to his post, and the foreign ministry, which would also suit him, will be in Kahol Lavan’s hands for half the government’s term. Edelstein has told those close to him that he wouldn’t accept any role other than Knesset speaker – in what seems to be a threat to give Netanyahu a hard time.

Yariv Levin: The closest minister to Netanyahu. He hopes to be named Knesset speaker and will get the job if the veto against Edelstein regaining it holds. If Edelstein does win back the appointment, Levine hopes to gain a portfolio more influential than the tourism job he has had in the outgoing government.

Amir Ohana: A favorite of the Netanyahus, he hopes for a senior post in the next cabinet and will likely receive one. If he isn’t named to the public security post, he will get the transportation, education or health portfolio.

Yisrael Katz: Expected to get the treasury job, with David Amsalem a candidate for the Jerusalem portfolio, possibly as part of a rotation deal. Zeev Elkin is expected to remain in the Environmental Protection Ministry and Yuval Steinitz in the Energy Ministry.

Gilad Erdan would like to stick with the public security ministry but Netanyahu intends to take the job from him for either Miri Regev or Ohana. Netanyahu will propose the job of UN ambassador to Erdan, something he’s already fielded in the past. If he doesn’t take it, he will pray for an appointment as health or education minister, whichever Yamina will reject.

Gideon Sa’ar: While several of Netanyahu’s advisers suggest that he give Sa’ar a marginal portfolio, as of Thursday, Netanyahu had no intention of doing so. Once the next Knesset session begins, Sa’ar will face a significant political dilemma: take advantage of the period to make trouble for Netanyahu or quit his rebel image.

Miri Regev has rejected the jobs of information and transportation minister, Ynet reported on Friday. Regev posted on Twitter that she would not discuss her jobs in the media but that she has said more than once she is interested in the public security post, which includes a sure seat in the security cabinet.

Yoav Gallant joined Likud as part of a dream to be the party’s security face and become defense minister. On Wednesday he will see Naftali Bennett, a man he despises, leaving that post, but the rest of his dream will have to wait for now. He will be minister of strategic affairs in the next cabinet and get a seat in the security cabinet as compensation.

Nir Barkat was assured of the treasury post for a month, but after the last election Netanyahu moved on and Barkat joined an honorable club of impressive politicians with promises in their pockets. He hopes to get the Jerusalem portfolio but there’s a lot of competition for this fictitious job, including Yamina party leaders. He is likely to receive a package of promises, such as deputy minister for the first part of the term, expanded authorities in a variety of offices and a vague promise to be named a cabinet minister in the second half of the term.

Gila Gamliel’s social equality portfolio moves over to Kahol Lavan and she has been campaigning in recent weeks for a senior job, but it will be an achievement for her to win any appointment. Netanyahu is weighing a position for her so as to keep a gender balance in the Knesset, which is nonexistent in any case. She is expected to get a marginal job such as the Negev and Galilee post or the Regional Cooperation Ministry.

Avi Dichter was once mentioned as a candidate for prime minister but the man who was once in the 10th slot in Likud is begging Netanyahu to carry out his promise to be named to the cabinet. In an interview on Saturday he said, “I see no other option” to getting a cabinet appointment. Dichter will likely be offered the role of a senior ambassadorship to London or Paris.

Ofir Akunis, the science minister, will also be offered an ambassador’s post. If he rejects that, he will have to suffice with being a mere lawmaker.

Tzipi Hotovely is expected to continue as representative of the nationalist religious camp in Likud but Netanyahu has no spot for her.

Haim Katz cannot be named as a cabinet minister due to the indictment against him, but in the coming years, if he can remove the cloud of criminality hanging over him, he will also demand to return to the cabinet.

Tzachi Hanegbi: Netanyahu also has nothing to offer him, but is looking for a job to give the man he likes and admires.

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