Coalition Agreement: Netanyahu to Be Involved in Picking Trustbuster

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be involved in the appointment of the next antitrust commissioner under the coalition agreement signed yesterday between Likud and Atzmaut, the new party founded by former Labor head Ehud Barak. The incumbent antitrust commissioner, Ronit Kan, will be stepping down at month-end.

Under the agreement, the next commissioner will be appointed in coordination with Netanyahu by the incoming industry and trade minister, who will be Shalom Simhon, assuming his appointment passes the hurdle of a Knesset vote today.

Candidates for the post are being chosen by a search committee set up by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry.

Today the Knesset is slated to vote on the appointment of Simhon as industry minister. He will be replaced at the Agriculture Ministry by Orit Noked, who has joined Barak in Atzmaut.

The coalition agreement also states that the chairman of the Jewish National Fund will be chosen by Atzmaut. Knesset circles assume that means Simhon, who has long wanted the job, will get it in the future, in which case he would have to resign his government post.

Simhon's office stated that he acquiesced to the Likud's request to coordinate the appointment of the antitrust commissioner. "It is an important, sensitive position that demands coordination," his office stated. Following the changes in cabinet, on top of being prime minister, Netanyahu will hold four ministerial positions - he will be minister of health, welfare, pensioners and super-minister of economic affairs.