Likud MKs form alliances for portfolios

The tension began when Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar announced last month that he would retire from politics "after the holidays."

October 19, 2014 22:14
2 minute read.
Binyamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses Likud supporters.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with ministerial candidate Gila Gamliel on Monday amid heightened internal turmoil over political promotions inside the Likud.

The tension began when Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced last month that he would retire from politics “after the holidays.” The fall holidays ended Thursday, but Sa’ar is not expected to resign his post until November 1.

Netanyahu offered Sa’ar’s job to Communications Minister Gilad Erdan, who has not hurried to accept the post. A Likud source close to Netanyahu said the prime minister would be very surprised if Erdan turned the job down.

The source said the most likely scenario is that Erdan will become interior minister yet retain responsibility over the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

He said Netanyahu would keep the remnant of the communications portfolio until after the Likud leadership race to keep all the candidates for the post loyal to him.

Netanyahu intends to ask the Likud central committee in two weeks to advance the Likud leadership primary. MK Moshe Feiglin, the only definite candidate committed to run against Netanyahu, asked the prime minister to coordinate a date with him.

The chairman of the central committee, MK Danny Danon, could decide to try to block Netanyahu from advancing the race. But a source close to the prime minister said such a maneuver would look awkward and would harm Danon politically.

The two main candidates for the communications portfolio are Gamliel and coalition chairman Yariv Levin. Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Ze’ev Elkin is trying to help Levin get the post, while deputy foreign minister Tzachi Hanegbi backs Gamliel.

Levin and Elkin were supposed to trade jobs soon.

But Channel 2 reported Sunday night that Elkin threatened Netanyahu that he will not accept the coalition chairmanship if Levin is not appointed a minister.

Hanegbi is willing to accept the coalition chairmanship in addition to his current post in order to help Gamliel get the portfolio after Levin and Elkin prevented him from receiving the post he wanted, chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Deputy minister Ophir Akunis, who had also sought the communications portfolio, has taken Gamliel’s side and would be willing to remain a deputy minister if given a minor promotion.

“Levin and Elkin have gone too far with their political appetite,” a Likud MK said. “It is time for Netanyahu to put them in their place.”

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