PM announces creation of Homeland Security Ministry

Netanyahu says Independence faction MK Vilna'i will head new ministry, MKs Simhon, Noked, Kahlon praised on new appointments.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
January 19, 2011 15:58
2 minute read.
Deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai.

311_Matan Vilnai. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced at the start of Wednesday's cabinet meeting at the Knesset that a new Homeland Security Ministry would be created to be headed by Independence faction MK Matan Vilna'i.

Netanyahu said that such ministries are prevalent around the world, including in the United States.

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"No one is more fit than Vilna'i for this post because he has so much experience dealing with this subject, "Netanyahu said.

The prime minister also praised Wednesday's other appointees. He said that incoming Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon, incoming Agriculture Minister Orit Noked and incoming Welfare and Social Service Minister Moshe Kahlon were all ideal candidates for the new positions.

Singling out Kahlon, Netanyahu noted that he comes from a poor family in Hadera and he knows personally about poverty.

"You got out of poverty by working hard and advancing yourself with your own two hands," Netanyahu said to Kahlon.

Social workers and non-profit organizations welcomed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision Wednesday to appoint MK Moshe Kahalon to head the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services for an interim three month period.

“We welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to appoint a full-time minister to this post,” Itzhik Perry, head of the Social Workers Union said in a statement. “Moshe Kahalon will be a courageous minister who has already proven his ability to bring about reforms in the realm of social welfare.”

He added: “Based on this we believe that he will help to make the necessary changes to the welfare system, which are so deeply needed in the State of Israel.”

Ran Melamed, Deputy Director of Social Policy and Communication for the non-profit organization Yedid, told The Jerusalem Post that NGOs also believe he is the right person for this job but did not understand why the appointment was only for three months.

“We have worked with him for many years on a variety of different legislation and policy,” Melamed said. “He could be the perfect minister but the question is why is it only for a short period and what will happen in three months from now?”

Netanyahu also thanked the three Labor ministers whose resignations took effect on Wednesday. He said the changes in the government would strengthen governmental stability and help advance the pursuit of peace.

Earlier Wednesday, the newly-formed Independence faction said that rather than give the Minority Affairs portfolio to Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon would take over the position.

The decision comes after sharp criticism that minorities did not want to be under the Defense Ministry.


In related news,
the Labor Party on Wednesday voted unanimously to elect MK Eitan Cabel as chairman of the faction.

At the Labor Executive Committee meeting, MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer denied reports he was interested in being the temporary head of the party.

"Forget about it," he said. "I'm not interested."


Ruth Eglash contributed to this report.


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