Netanyahu’s and Gantz’s Parties Agree on Top Treasury Appointment, Potentially Ending Stalemate

Cabinet set to discuss a host of appointments after Kahol Lavan agrees to appoint accountant general in exchange for appointing a director general of the alternate prime minister’s office. Meanwhile, key positions remain vacant

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting with Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, May 7, 2020
Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting with Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, May 7, 2020Credit: Amit Shabi
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

The cabinet is expected to discuss on Sunday the appointment of an accountant general at the Finance Ministry, signaling a potential breakthrough in negotiations on senior appointment between the two main coalition partners, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan.

According to a compromise reached between the parties, the cabinet will also discuss appointing a director general of the office of the alternate prime minister, a position created for Defense Minister Gantz as part of his party’s coalition agreement with Netanyahu’s Likud.

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Likud stuck to its refusal to appoint a director general at the Justice Ministry because of a dispute with Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn of Kahol Lavan. Meanwhile, a close associate of Gantz, Hod Batzar, agreed on the party’s behalf to proceed with the understandings regardless. 

On Monday Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit called on the High Court of Justice to issue an injunction in petitions for appointing a permanent director general for the Justice Ministry. “Coalition agreements and disputes cannot trump the obligation of the government and authorized officials to move to fill senior positions for permanent appointments,” his statement read.

The designated accountant general is Yaheli Rotenberg, the candidate supported by Finance Minister Yisrael Katz. The appointment is for five years, and it is considered especially hard to push someone out of the job.

The account general’s already-broad responsibilities grow now that Israel has no state budget, possessing the authority to approve budgetary expenditures. In contrast, the director general of the alternate prime minister, to which Batzar is expected to be appointed, lacks any real authority.

The cabinet agenda also includes approving the appointment of a chairperson of the Israel Airport Authority, an ambassador to Ethiopia, a roaming ambassador to Burundi and Chad, as well as a director of the Authority for Investments and Development of the Industry and Economy within the Economy and Industry Ministry.

Numerous senior appointments have been held up since the government was sworn in, among them police commissioner, state prosecutor and several ministerial directors general. The two parties pledged to the High Court in hearings about the coalition agreement to avoid making senior appointments only in the first 100 days after establishing the government, which was established in May.

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