Benjamin Netanyahu heads a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem

PM taps Likud lawmakers to take over his ministries

Netanyahu was forced to quit his various portfolios earlier this month due to criminal charges against him, names replacements for agriculture, Diaspora affairs and labor ministries

Moran Azulay |
Published: 01.20.20 , 14:40
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lawmakers from his own Likud party given the ministries he was forced to yield after he was indicted for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.
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  • Given previous Supreme Court criticism over the appointment of new ministers during the term of an interim government, the new ministers all already hold other portfolios.
    Tzachi Hanegbi has been tapped as agriculture and rural development minister, a position he will hold in addition to his role as minister of regional cooperation.
    רה"מ בנימין נתניהו בפתח ישיבת הממשלהרה"מ בנימין נתניהו בפתח ישיבת הממשלה
    Benjamin Netanyahu heads a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem
    (Photo: Eli Mandelbaum)
    The position was initially offered to former Likud chairman David Bitan, who rejected it due to 12 separate criminal investigations for alleged bribery and breach of trust. If charged he would be required to resign from his ministerial post.
    Science, Technology and Space minister Ofir Akunis will also assume the post of labor, social affairs and social services minister, while Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely will become Diaspora affairs minister.
    Yifat Shasha-Biton, also of Likud, will remain in her post as minister of housing and construction. She was previously tapped to take on the position of deputy labor minister, but that position was now to be given to Meshulam Nahari of Shas, who will leave his position of deputy minister at the Interior Ministry and Ministry of Development of the Periphery, Negev and Galilee.
    Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen of Shas was initially to be named housing minister in place of Shasha-Biton, but chose to pass on the appointment because he did not want her to be fired from the job.
    Hotovely thanked the prime minister two weeks ago for intending to appoint her to the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, vowing to work to strengthen the ties between Israel and Jews the world over.
    "I see great importance in working together will community leaders to combat the growing wave of anti-Semitism," Hotovely said.
    Two years ago, Netanyahu considered firing Hotovely after she insulted American Jews, accusing them oliving comfortable lives as they pass judgment on Israel.
    Tzipi Hotovely Tzipi Hotovely
    Tzipi Hotovely
    (Photo: AFP)
    The prime minister resigned from his various ministerial positions earlier this month after informing the Supreme Court in December that he intended to do so by the end of 2019.
    Netanyahu insisted he would not resign as prime minister because the law did not require him to do so and declared that courts should also refrain from deciding the question of his resignation.
    United Torah Judaism leader Yaakov Litzman, who served as deputy health minister because his party did not want its member to serve as a full minister in an Israeli government, reluctantly agreed to formally become the full minister due to Netanyahu's decision to resign his ministries.
    Litzman, however, is also facing possible charges of corruption and may be indicted. His appointment sparked fury among Australia's Jewish community due to his perceived protection of a Melbourne school principal who fled to Israel when facing 74 sexual assault charges against her female students back home.

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