Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a Memorial Day ceremony on Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will send coalition chairman Tzachi Hanegbi to meet with MK Gilad Erdan and try to end the dispute that has resulted in Netanyahu’s number two in Likud remaining outside the cabinet.
Tensions between Netanyahu and Erdan intensified Monday when the latter vowed to fight to dismantle the Bezeq Internet infrastructure monopoly. Communications Ministry Director- General Avi Berger, who Erdan appointed, was leading that effort until Netanyahu, who heads the ministry, fired him by phone Sunday evening.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog slammed Berger’s firing at Monday’s Zionist Union faction meeting, and vowed to take steps to prevent Netanyahu from harming the press after Netanyahu’s office announced on Monday that the Communications Ministry under his leadership would be in charge of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
This raised questions in the opposition about whether it was ethical for the prime minister to control a key organ of the press.
“Firing a respected director- general is definitely the most urgent thing for your new government,” Herzog said sarcastically to Netanyahu.
“Is there no urgent issue with diplomacy, stopping the firing of workers in the Negev or helping Ethiopian immigrants?” Netanyahu “just wants to show who is boss,” Herzog continued, adding that, if Netanyahu took steps to harm the press, “he will find me and a huge camp there protecting freedom of thought and freedom of speech.”
The prime minister wants Erdan as his public security minister, a post Tourism Minister Yariv Levin is holding in his stead. Speaking at a changing of the guard ceremony at the Tourism Ministry, Levin said he did not want to continue to hold both portfolios.
Likud MK Avi Dichter, who turned down a deputy defense minister post, is willing to return to the Public Security Ministry he headed from 2006 to 2009 as a deputy minister with no minister above him.
Levin is also the governmental liaison to the Knesset and the deputy head of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation, which is chaired by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. In the latter role, he will be Netanyahu’s representative ensuring that Shaked does not use the committee to take steps the prime minister opposes.
Hanegbi said his agreement with Netanyahu gives him a seat in the cabinet after a year as coalition chairman.
“Obviously, it will not be an easy task to pass all the votes but we will try to rise to the challenge and try to survive the entire term,” Hanegbi said.