(photo credit: Israel Sellem)
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan has not yet decided whether to
accept an offer from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister
Avigdor Lieberman to become ambassador to the United Nations.
battle is already under way to succeed him in the Environmental Protection
Ministry – just in case the job opens up. The ministry, which was once the least
sought-after in the cabinet, has grown in stature under Erdan, who succeeded in
getting its budget doubled.
Erdan said on Wednesday that he would make a
decision within two weeks about whether to accept the prestigious job in New
York, which was once held by Netanyahu himself.
Two female deputy
ministers from the Likud are actively seeking the post: Deputy Pensioners
Affairs Minister Leah Ness and Gila Gamliel, whose responsibilities in the Prime
Minister’s Office include issues related to women, students and young
Sources close to Ness point out that she is a former chairwoman
of the Knesset’s short-lived Environmental Affairs Committee, which is now part
of the Internal Affairs Committee.
During her time in the post, she
initiated key legislation regulating clean air and other environmental
Should Gamliel be given the job, her current responsibilities for
students and young people could be given to MK Ophir Akunis, who is close to
Netanyahu and is among the youngest MKs at 37.
Akunis, who recently lost
the chairmanship of the Knesset Economics Committee, could also be given
responsibility over the Israel Broadcasting Authority in place of Netanyahu’s
director-general Eyal Gabai, who has been overloaded with tasks.
Akunis would not mind getting promoted straight to a cabinet post, as would
other freshman MKs.
Under Ariel Sharon, two young freshmen MKs were
promoted quickly to minister: Tzipi Livni and Dan Naveh.
There are also
two ministers without portfolio in Likud who could be considered for the post
should it become vacant: Michael Eitan and Yossi Peled.
ambassador’s post is currently occupied by Meron Reuben, a career diplomat, who
was named interim ambassador when Gabriela Shalev left the job.
was recently given an indication that he would remain in the UN post, because
another diplomat was appointed ambassador to Colombia, the job he held when he
was given the UN post, and which he had continued to hold from New York.