Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan has turned down Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s offer to grant him the Energy and Water Ministry, a senior source in the Environmental Protection Ministry told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

The comments from a source close to Erdan came following reports that he was offered the ministry and in light of the strife in the Likud over ministries.

Current ministers and MKs who did well in the Likud’s last primary have expressed frustration over the smaller number of ministers – 22 compared to 30 in the last government – which means that most ministers cannot be promoted to more prestigious portfolios, and there will not be any new ministers in the party.

Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon is expected to receive the Defense portfolio, and Gideon Sa’ar will most likely be interior minister, while Transportation Minister Israel Katz and Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat will stay in their current positions. Party sources said Silvan Shalom will become home front defense minister, and Yuval Steinitz will receive the Strategic Affairs portfolio.

Erdan turned down the Energy and Water Ministry, even though it is carries greater political cache than his previous portfolio, because he felt that he could not accept leadership over this portfolio without also receiving the Environmental Protection Ministry, the source said. Without also governing the environmental portfolio, the minister would be accepting work that operates directly against the ideals he espouses – such as minimizing the export of natural gas, the source continued.

If the two portfolios were united under one ministry, Erdan would then consider accepting the job, according to the source.

However, this would involve assigning MK Amir Peretz (Hatnua) to a responsibility other than environmental protection minister, and very few portfolios remain. In addition, Likud Beytenu insisted in coalition talks with Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid that they would not break their agreement with Hatnua, which specifies the Environmental Protection portfolio.

Erdan continues to believe in the ideology of environmental protection and envisions an Israeli future governed by sustainability, and will not take a side that cannot be combined with sustainable thinking, the source added.

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