Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Knesset cabinet meeting.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
After reshuffling some of the ministerial portfolios on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he is keeping the foreign ministry open and hopes to expand the government.
“Our governmental system creates tensions,” Netanyahu said at a 150 minute briefing with diplomatic correspondents. “Overall the government is functioning well, but I am still interested in expanding it.”
Asked whether he was interested in replacing Bayit Hayehudi with the Zionist Union, he replied that he wanted to expand the government, not constrict and then expand it.
Regarding the negotiations with the US over the new 10-year defense package, Netanyahu deflected criticism that Israel could have gotten a better package had he negotiated before the Iran nuclear deal, saying that this was not the case, and that Israel would not have received significantly more had the negotiations concluded last year.
Acting National Security Council head Yaakov Nagel was scheduled to leave for three days of talks on the matter in the US on Sunday night, but Netanyahu would not discuss the sum that is being discussed. The final deal is expected to reach $38 billion over the next decade.
The premier denied a Washington Post
report quoting former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani as saying that Israeli leaders preferred Donald Trump as president over Hillary Clinton, saying that he was scrupulously careful in his meetings with American officials not to get involved in the election.
“I say we are not interfering and will work with whomever wins,” he said The prime minister said he spoke to US Secretary John Kerry Sunday afternoon, who updated him on his meeting in Paris with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Much of the briefing dealt with criticism by Education Minister Naftali Bennett and former Finance Minister Yair Lapid about the government's failure in preparing properly against the terror tunnels from Gaza before Operation Cast Lead, through this part of the briefing was off the record.
He did say, however, that it was “absurd” to think that he wanted the upcoming Comptroller's report on Operation Protective Edge to be buried.
“We are interested in all the truth coming out,” he said, adding that he was interested in the preparations made both before and during the war regarding the tunnels be made public.