PM tells Likud ministers to stop their bickering

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
January 28, 2013 00:34

Angered by criticism appearing in the press, Netanyahu asks Likud ministers to stop leaking information to the press.

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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting, January 27, 2013.

Netanyahu at cabinet meeting 370. (photo credit: Emil Salman/Haaretz, poo)

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.

Netanyahu 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.

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“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 next government.

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.


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