Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday announced his decision to appoint Likud MK David Bitan to head the ministry of agriculture, despite criminal charges - including accepting bribes - pending against him.
Bitan's appointment drew condemnation from opposition parties with Blue & White spokesperson saying, "The Netanyahu government has morphed into a crime syndicate with only one purpose and that is saving their leader from prosecution."
A Likud source said Netanyahu who had promised Bitan he would be made a minister before the police recommendation to indict him, was just keeping his word.
The prime minister also announced appointments to other ministries:
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotobeli will now become head of the newly formed diaspora ministry, Yifat Shasha-Biton who was Minister of Construction and Housing will move to become Minister of Social Welfare, Deputy Finance Minister Yizhak Cohen from the Shas party will move to head the ministry of construction and housing.
The decision to appoint new ministers was taken after the prime minister told the Supreme Court that he will drop all government ministries other than that of the premier in accordance with the law after being criminally indicted on charges of corruption.
The appointment of Shas MK Cohen to head the ministry for social welfare was condemned by Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Liberman who warned: "the prime minister presented his political allies with a portfolio that will enable the ultra-Orthodox politicians to rob Israelis of land that will no doubt now go to exclusively religious towns at the expense of the general public."
First published: 20:28 , 01.05.20