Elkin-Katz bond holding up cabinet reshuffle

Kahlon and Galant have sparred since Galant entered Kulanu and Kahlon's number two.

July 27, 2016 20:52
2 minute read.
Nir Barkat

(From right) Barkat, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud MK Ze’ev Elkin (who also serves as Jerusalem affairs minister) attend a special cabinet meeting at Ammunition Hill marking Jerusalem Day on May 20. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is unable to complete a reshuffle of his cabinet, due to a political deal between Likud ministers Ze’ev Elkin and Haim Katz, sources in the party said on Wednesday, confirming a report in Israel Hayom.

Netanyahu wants to complete a series of cabinet appointments ahead of the Knesset recess that begins next Wednesday. He wants to give Elkin the vacant Environmental Protection portfolio, give part of the Economy portfolio (which the prime minister currently holds) to Katz, and find ways to promote Minister- without-Portfolio Tzachi Hanegbi and Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara.

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But Elkin does not want to relinquish the Jerusalem Affairs portfolio he currently holds and give it to Hanegbi. Katz has told Netanyahu he will not accept the portion of the Economy portfolio earmarked for him if Elkin does not end up with two portfolios.

Elkin and Katz have warned Netanyahu that they could use the Likud institutions they control in order to harm Netanyahu politically if Elkin is forced to relinquish the portfolio.

Elkin held two portfolio before Yisrael Beytenu was given his Immigration and Absorption portfolio, and he wants to return to hold two again.

Sources close to Elkin denied a report that he would support a proposal in the Likud’s Law Committee that would enact de facto term limits for party chairmen. But they confirmed that he wants to keep the Jerusalem Affairs portfolio and that Hanegbi covets it.

Kara began a campaign on Wednesday to keep the Regional Cooperation portfolio as a minister after building the ministry as a deputy minister.

He has used the post to build relations with Jordan and other countries, using his knowledge of Arabic and connections.

There is a possibility that Netanyahu could make Kara a minister-without-portfolio and give the Regional Cooperation portfolio to Hanegbi or to current Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant. Kulanu chairman Moshe Kahlon wants to promote Galant to the remaining portions of the Economy portfolio and give the Construction and Housing portfolio to MK Eli Cohen or another loyalist.

Kahlon and Galant have sparred since Galant entered Kulanu as Kahlon’s No. 2.

Galant has come closer, meanwhile, to Netanyahu, who would like him to join the Likud, where Galant, as a former IDF deputy chief of staff, would be the party’s top security figure, filling the vacuum left when then-defense minister Moshe Ya’alon resigned from the government and the Knesset on May 20.

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