The battle for ministerial positions

The battle for ministerial positions

With days still left before the April 9 elections, the race for the most sought after government portfolios has already gone underway; Bennett and Lieberman expected to fight it out over the defense minister position, while Kahlon and Feiglin will battle over treasury portfolio

As election campaigning ahead of the April 9 vote tapers off, the battle for ministerial positions during coalition negotiations is only beginning.



The current finance minister, Moshe Kahlon, has already made it clear he intends to ask for the same portfolio in the next government as well, despite Zehut Chairman Moshe Feiglin claiming he intends to challenge the incumbent for the position.


The battle for ministerial positions
The battle for ministerial positions


"If Feiglin becomes a finance minister, I will quit the government … I would rather sever my own hand than vote against plans to help the elderly and young couples," Kahlon said.


Feiglin, however, labeled Kahlon as “the finance minister of big unions." "There is no doubt that we need the treasury portfolio in order to fulfill our promises to the voter, and we will insist on that. Without it, we have nothing to look for in any government," he said.


Moshe Kahlon (Photo: Avi Moalem)
Moshe Kahlon (Photo: Avi Moalem)


Labor Party Chairman Avi Gabbay also appears to be interested in the treasury portfolio in a Benny Gantz-led coalition government if the former IDF chief's Blue and White party prevails over the ruling Likud.


The biggest political battle is expected to be over the most sought after ministerial position - the defense portfolio. The current education minister, Naftali Bennett, and former defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, both appear to be in contention for the coveted position.


The elections campaign of Bennett’s party, the New Right, has almost entirely been based around his demand to be appointed as the next defense minister (with his party’s co-founder - Ayelet Shaked - retaining the position of the justice minister).


Ayelet Shaked  (Photo: Avi Moalem)
Ayelet Shaked (Photo: Avi Moalem)


"If Bennett becomes defense minister, the situation will change," Shaked said. "We must stop being at Yahya Sinwar’s beck and call, who just today said that if Israel continues jamming the signal of security prisoners’ cell phones, we’d be under rocket attacks.”


Meanwhile, Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Lieberman, said his party will also fight for the interior portfolio. "The Interior Ministry must move on from Shas to the hands of Zionist parties,” Lieberman said.


The current interior minister - Aryeh Deri - however, is not expected to give up on his position easily. In addition, Deri also wants the immigration and absorption portfolio, currently held by Lieberman’s party. "You can’t wander the halls of the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption without speaking Russian," said Deri at a conference a month ago. "We will make sure that new immigrants from France feel welcome as well."


Aryeh Deri  (צילום: אבי מועלם)
Aryeh Deri (צילום: אבי מועלם)


With Bennett most likely to vacate his position as education minister, Rafi Peretz - who heads the Union of The Right-Wing Parties - is expected to ask for the portfolio. The second on the union’s party list - MK Bezalel Smotrich - is said to be interested to take over Shaked as the justice minister. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, said he would make sure the next education minister will be from his Likud party.


In the meantime, Meretz Chairwoman Tamar Zandberg said if a center-left government is formed, her party will demand either an education portfolio or a justice portfolio.


A tight competition is also expected when it comes to health portfolio. Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) publicly admitted to wanting to head the ministry, but will face a challenge from MK Orly Levy-Abekasis if her Gesher party will pass the electoral threshold.


MK Orly Levy-Abekasis  (Photo: Shaul Golan)
MK Orly Levy-Abekasis (Photo: Shaul Golan)


“Becoming the health minister is a precondition (to entering the next government), but it doesn’t stop there … the position needs to be accompanied by budgets and a national emergency plan to save the health system," Levy-Abekasis said last week.


MK Itzik Shmuli also expressed an interest to challenge for the position in case his Labor Party will be part of the next coalition government. “It’s essential to build more hospitals,” he said.


פרסום ראשון: 04.07.19, 19:46
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