Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called upon the ministers inside his Likud
party to stop fighting with each other at a meeting of the party’s cabinet
members at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on Sunday.
asked the ministers to refrain from briefing the press anonymously and to remain
on message as if the election was still taking place. The prime minister was
angered by articles published over the weekend in which anonymous ministers
criticized the Likud’s campaign.
“If the heads of the campaign would have
gone abroad, we would have won more mandates,” one minister was quoted as saying
in sharp criticism aimed at the Likud’s campaign chairman, Education Minister
Gideon Sa’ar, and the head of the campaign’s public relations, Environmental
Protection Minister Gilad Erdan.
The anonymous minister accused Sa’ar and
Erdan of promoting themselves at the Likud’s expense and damaging the party. A
source close to Sa’ar said the anonymous minister was Transportation Minister
Israel Katz, who is considered a rival of Sa’ar for the Finance Ministry in the
Due to Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid’s request to shrink
the next cabinet, multiple Likud ministers are expected to be demoted. The
number of portfolios available to current Likud ministers will also be reduced
due to the Likud’s deal with Yisrael Beytenu and Netanyahu’s intention to return
former minister Tzachi Hanegbi to the cabinet.
Netanyahu intends to keep
Minister-without- Portfolio Bennie Begin in his cabinet, even though he was not
reelected to the Knesset. He is not expected to do the same favor for ministers
Dan Meridor and Avi Dichter, who were also not reelected.
MK Haim Katz,
who is a political power broker in Likud, reportedly received a promise from
Netanyahu to be a minister.
A Yesh Atid official denied reports that the
party would insist on only appointing 18 ministers in the next cabinet. The
official said the party wanted to see the number reduced significantly from the
30 appointed last time and a law passed limiting the number of ministers to 18
following the next general election.
Netanyahu had such a law passed in
his first term as prime minister that began in 1996. He appointed only 18
ministers in that term. But Netanyahu’s successor in the Prime Minister’s
Office, Ehud Barak, had the law repealed.