Gov't to be even bigger with new ministry led by Vilnai

Defense officials say the establishment of the new Home Front Ministry will be completed by the middle of August.

By
July 27, 2011 03:50
1 minute read.
MATAN VILNA’I. We’re the neighborhood bully. You don’t want to start with us. (

Vilnai 311. (photo credit: (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post))

 
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Political opponents of Binyamin Netanyahu have spent two years criticizing the prime minister for establishing what they call a “bloated government.” Well, it is about to get even bigger.

Next month, Matan Vilna’i will break away from serving as a minister in the Defense Ministry and will become the head of the brand new Home Front Ministry.

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While Vilna’i has called himself the home front defense minister since the Independence Faction broke away from the Labor Party earlier this year, he is not in charge of an independent office and officially works as a minister within the Defense Ministry and alongside Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Defense officials said on Monday that the establishment of the new ministry would be completed by the middle of August. It will mostly consist of the National Emergency Management Authority, which is responsible for preparing the home front for various emergencies by coordinating between emergency organizations, government offices, local authorities and other relevant institutions.

“We are in the final stages of establishing the ministry and expect it to be up and running by the middle of August,” a defense official said on Monday.

Vilna’i will have a number of new positions to fill, including director-general of the ministry and a new head of the National Emergency Management Authority, whose current director Zeev Zuk-Ram he tried to fire earlier this year, but was stopped by the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Veteran Defense Ministry employees have questioned the need for a new ministry, warning that its establishment and the detachment of the National Emergency Management Authority from the IDF and the Defense Ministry could be more detrimental than beneficial.

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One question that still needs to be answered surrounds the fate of MELACH, a Hebrew acronym for the Defense Ministry’s Emergency Economic Organization, which becomes responsible for coordinating the economy in a time of war or national disaster.

Two options are under consideration – transferring responsibility for MELACH to Vilna’i’s new office or leaving it in the Defense Ministry, under director-general Udi Shani.

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