Netanyahu Appoints Acting Foreign Minister

The move followed a court challenge over the number of ministerial posts held by the prime minister

YIsrael Katz, left, and Prime Minister Netanyahu
Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) on Sunday as interim foreign minister until a permanent minister is appointed to the post after the April 9 Knesset election.

Netanyahu, who acted as foreign minister, committed in writing in December to present the cabinet with a candidate by the end of January, after he decided to appoint Yariv Levin, who had been tourism minister, as immigrant absorption minister.

The appointments were made following High Court of Justice petitions challenging  the number of portfolios held by the prime minister, who is still also currently defense minister and health minister.

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit submitted an opinion stating that holding multiple ministerial posts is possible as long as it is temporary, as Netanyahu had stated it would be.

Mendelblit, who wrote the opinion after the Yisrael Beiteinu ministers Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver quit the government, also noted that he believed the situation was acceptable “in consideration of the prime minister’s broad discretionary powers with regard to the structure and makeup of the government and considering the need to allow the government and the prime minister a brief but reasonable time to reorganize in light of the unexpected departure of the defense minister and the immigrant absorption minister.

Meretz chairwoman MK Tamar Zandberg attacked Katz's appointment,  saying “no one is more suitable than the minister of traffic jams to lead the diplomatic jam that Netanyahu created with the Western world. Luckily, he won’t have much more time to do damage.”