Netanyahu Expected to Appoint New Communications Minister by Sunday

The prime minister will likely appoint his tourism minister - one of the only ministers he trusts - to the post

Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to Tourism Minister Yariv Levin at the Knesset, December 8, 2015.
Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to appoint a new communications minister by Sunday, as Tzachi Hanegbi's three-month temporary appointment comes to an end.

Netanyahu is looking into appointing Yariv Levin to the position in addition to his current position as tourism minister. Levin is one of the Netanyahu's closest government members and one of the only ministers he trusts.

If Levin refuses to take the job, Netanyahu will likely appoint Hanegbi. The appointment of Miri Regev is not being considered.

Two police investigations are underway against Netanyahu – one over whether he improperly accepted expensive gifts from businesspeople, and one over whether he agreed to limit the circulation of the free daily Israel Hayom in return for better coverage from rival Yedioth Ahronoth. Netanyahu allegedly received expensive cigars and champagne from Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

At the beginining of the year, the High Court demanded Netanyahu explain why he did not resign or recuse himself from the Communications Ministry during the investigations.

Justice Ministry officials have said it is difficult to defend Netanyahu’s presence at the Communications Ministry for the time being, so a transfer of the portfolio was advisable.

Several months beforehand Netanyahu already authorized Hanegbi to make decisions concerning telecommunications company Bezeq after Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit ruled that Netanyahu’s relationship with Bezeq’s main shareholder, Shaul Elovitch, disqualified him.