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Poker face. Netanyahu
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New government to be sworn in at 5 pm Tuesday
Israel's 32nd government to include some 30 ministers from Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, Labor, Shas and Habayit Hayehudi parties. Prime Minister-designate Netanyahu set to brief senior Likud Mks on their designated portfolios

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has officially asked the Knesset hold a swearing in ceremony for his new government at 5 pm Tuesday.

 

Cabinet Secretary-designate Zvi Hauser has already been asked to see that a new government table, big enough to accommodate all of the ministers, would be installed.  

 

Netanyahu will summon senior members of the Likud to his new Knesset chambers Monday and inform each of them which office they have been assigned.

 

Sources close to to the PM-designate estimated that the Likud would head 12 government bureaus, and along with other members of the coalition - Yisrael Beiteinu, Labor, Shas and Habayit Hayehudi - making a total of 30 ministers.

 

Israel will usher in a new political era as soon as Knesset Member Reuven Rivlin's nomination for Knesset speaker is confirmed.

 

The Likud chairman is said to be keeping his "cards" close to his chest and even those closest to him are having trouble guessing which one of the Likud members have been shortlisted.

 

"This is agonizing," a senior Likud member told Ynet. "This wait is just very uncomfortable."

 

The name game

For now, it seems that the only two nominations secured are those of Prof. Yaakov Ne'eman for the Justice Ministry and MK Gideon Sa'ar for the Education Ministry.

 

MK Yisrael Katz is rumored to be the leading candidate for the Transportation Ministry, MK Gilad Erdan is likely to be named to the Environmental Protection Ministry, MK Moshe Kahlon is in the lead for the Communications Ministry and MK Limor Livnat for the Science, Culture and Sport's Ministry.

 

Knesset Member Moshe Yaalon is rumored to head the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and MKs Benny Begin and Dan Meridor are to serve as ministers in the Prime Minister's Office.

 

One prestigious office which has yet to be tapped is the Treasury. It is still unclear whether Netanyahu will choose to head the ministry himself. Likud members said over the weekend that Meridor agreed to head the Finance Ministry, but MK Yuval Steinitz has also reportedly expressed his interest in the office.

 

Other positions still to be named are those of the vice premier, the prime minister's locum tenens, minister for development of the Negev and Galilee and the Knesset liaison.

 

Monday morning saw the party name Knesset Member Zeev Elkin its faction chairman. Elkin won 20 votes, while Knesset Member Danny Danon – who was also bidding for the position – won seven votes.

 

Meanwhile, Labor Chairman Ehud Barak completed naming his picks for ministers under the next coalition: Barak himself will be named defense minister, MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer was tapped for the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry; MK Shalom Simhon stands to continue in the Agriculture Ministry; Isaac Herzog will stay on as minister of social affairs; MK Avishay Braverman was tapped for minister of minority affairs and member of the socio-economic cabinet, MK Matan Vilnai is to remain deputy defense minister and MK Orit Noked will be named deputy industry, trade and labor minister.  

 

Amnon Meranda contributed to this report

 


First published: 30.03.09, 08:16
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