Minister of Transportation and Intelligence Yisrael Katz is expected to be appointed as Israel’s interim foreign minister by Prime Minister Netanyahu during Sunday’s cabinet meeting. The move comes after an Israeli NGO, the Movement for Quality Government, petitioned the High Court of Justice, demanding the prime minister relinquish himself of some of the four portfolios he currently holds.
Netanyahu, who has served as foreign minister since May 2015 and as defense minister since November 2018, also holds the health portfolio, with Yaakov Litzman acting as his deputy, in addition to his post as the head of Israeli government.
In the wake of the petition, submitted late last year, the prime minister announced he is to transfer the foreign affairs portfolio at the start of 2019. Netanyahu, however, failed to fulfill the obligation, prompting the High Court to order the State to appoint an acting foreign minister with immediate effect.
Katz, who recently took the second spot in the Likud primaries, would become a senior party minister following the appointment and says he'll run for party chairman and prime minister after Netanyahu retires. Katz beat Foreign Minister Yuval Steinitz in the race for the position.
Steinitz, wished Katz “good luck” as he was entering the cabinet meeting, while Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan said no one is “interfering with the prime minister's process of dividing the portfolios,” and wished the transportation minister “great success” at his new job.
Netanyahu has on many occasion praised Katz for his achievements as the transportation minister—connecting the Galilee and the Negev to the center of the country through a network of roads and railway tracks—as well as lowering airfares through the Open Skies reform.
Reuters contributed to this report.