Netanyahu, Cabinet meeting_311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu scored political victories when he passed both
the Gilad Schalit deal and the Trachtenberg Committee’s recommendations by wide
margins last week, and now he appears out to settle a political score with his
Likud rival, Vice Premier Silvan Shalom.
Shalom was the only Likud
minister who voted against endorsing Trachtenberg’s plan to help the middle
class. He cited professional reasons for his vote, including the plan’s failure
to allocate funding for the poorer sectors and the periphery, represented by the
Negev and Galilee Development Ministry he heads.
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But Shalom’s vote was
seen as political by officials in the Prime Minister’s Office, and Netanyahu’s
associates have taken steps interpreted by Likud officials as revenge against
First of all, Shalom’s proposal to make Sundays a day off has
been put on ice. A committee headed by National Economic Council head, Prof.
Eugene Kandel, which was supposed to issue its findings when the Knesset returns
from its extended summer recess October 31, has now been given until the end of
March to complete its work.
It has become increasingly likely that the
committee will recommend against Shalom’s proposal. Meanwhile, Shalom’s threat
to proceed with private member legislation, that could attract a majority, has
been averted by the delay in the committee’s work.
Another issue that
Shalom has worked hard on promoting – the opening of a new medical school in
Safed – will feature a ceremony in which Netanyahu will speak, but Shalom will
The first medical school in the North, the project is the
centerpiece of Shalom’s ministry’s work.
While Shalom was left out of the
itinerary of speakers at the event, Ma’ariv
’s Ben Caspit revealed on Friday that
the vice premier was also left out of a picture from the cabinet meeting Tuesday
night that decided to endorse the Schalit deal.
As part of a deal reached
between Netanyahu and Shalom when the cabinet was formed, Shalom sits to the
immediate left of Netanyahu in cabinet meetings, which guarantees his presence
in pictures from the meetings. But in the key picture released from the meeting
by the Government Press Office, Shalom’s face was blocked by Mossad chief Yoram
Shalom also found himself embarrassed by a leak from that cabinet
meeting that was not true. Channel 2 broadcast a tip that Shalom would be one of
the three ministers to oppose the Schalit deal, when in fact Shalom at the time
had not decided how to vote, and he ended up voting in favor.
several ministers were given a private meeting with Netanyahu in which he
explained the deal ahead of the cabinet meeting, and others received a phone
call, Shalom was not told until he was invited on short notice by the Prime
Minister’s Office to come to the meeting. He was also not part of any internal
consultations, because despite a promise from Netanyahu, he was not made part of
the inner-security cabinet.
Neither Shalom nor Netanyahu’s associates
would comment on the deteriorating relationship between the two.