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