MK Isaac Herzog of Labor officially handed over the Welfare and Social Services
portfolio to Likud MK Moshe Kahlon on Monday The ceremony included the heads of
various ministry departments, as well as two of Herzog’s political appointees –
ministry director- general Nahum Itzkowitz and National Insurance Institute
directorgeneral Esther Dominissini – who will continue with their work despite
“Even before he was appointed to take over this job, I got a
call from Kahlon expressing an interest in becoming minister of welfare and
social services,” Herzog said as he handed the new minister a specially compiled
guide on what he believes to be the most pressing social issues facing the
“I know that even when Kahlon was minister of communications, he
worked hard to promote the interests of the people,” Herzog said.
challenges for you here will not be easy,” he continued, quipping, “and from the
opposition bench, we will not make your life easy – although that is not
something personal, but rather political.”
Herzog announced his
resignation as minister last week in the wake of party leader Ehud Barak’s
decision to leave Labor and form the Independence faction.
Herzog said at
a farewell press conference on Sunday that he would continue to advocate for
social issues, even as he makes a bid for the Labor Party leadership and works
to change what has become one of the smallest parties in the
Despite the politics, Kahlon told those gathered on Monday that
Herzog was leaving behind him a legacy in taking a ministry that no other
politician wanted and bringing some of the most pressing social welfare issues
to the forefront of the public consciousness.
“Society in general, and
the weaker or needier elements in society, owes you a lot,” Kahlon said. “This
office is not in high demand by politicians, but you came in and took on many of
Kahlon was appointed by Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu five days ago to head the ministry, although at the moment the
appointment is only for an interim period of three months.
whether Kahlon planned to remain in the position long-term, a spokesman for the
new minister told The Jerusalem Post, “It is not about what he [the minister]
wants; he has been given a mission by the prime minister, and that is what he is
In the meantime, Kahlon told Welfare and Social Services Ministry
professionals that he intended to become their “voice in the government, the
Knesset and Knesset committees.
“Any issue that needs to be dealt with,
please do not hesitate to speak to me about it,” said Kahlon, adding that he
planned to continue the changes that Herzog had set in motion over the past four
“I truly believe in a person’s dignity,” he said.
are many issues [in society] that bother me, and I will do what I can to see to
it that people do not suffer.”
Itzkowitz, who started as director-general
when Herzog took over the ministry in 2007, told the Post he was delighted to be
staying in place for now and that he was hopeful Kahlon would continue after the
three-month period was over.
“The ministry needs to have a permanent
It is very important,” he said.
Among the issues that
Herzog has urged Kahlon to focus on in the coming months is the battle with the
Treasury to improve salaries, resources and manpower for those at the forefront
of social welfare issues – the social workers.
The guide also outlines
the need to improve the plight of thousands of Holocaust survivors who live in
poverty, and the flow of information among authorities to the reduce the dangers
faced by children at risk.
Nonprofit organizations working in the field
of social welfare, as well as several members of staff, expressed to the Post in
recent days their disappointment at seeing Herzog leave the ministry, but most
said they were satisfied with Kahlon being appointed the new minister as long as
he was able to stay for the long term.
Following Kahlon’s appointment,
Itzhik Perry, head of the Social Workers Union said, “We welcome the prime
minister’s decision to appoint a full-time minister to this post. Moshe Kahlon
will be a courageous minister who has already proven his ability to bring about
reforms in the realm of social welfare.”
Ran Melamed, deputy director of
social policy and communication for nonprofit organization Yedid, also said
Kahlon was a good choice, but did not understand why the appointment was only
“He could be the perfect minister, but the question is, why it
is only for a short period, and what will happen three months from now?” he