Michael Oren, Hotovely jostling for cabinet portfolio as deadline nears

Netanyahu is being forced by the Supreme Court to appoint a minister to replace Sofa Landver, whose resignation took effect on November 18 along with that of former defense minister Avigdor Liberman.

December 23, 2018 15:07
2 minute read.
Michael Oren, Hotovely jostling for cabinet portfolio as deadline nears

Michael Oren at Zedekiah’s Cave. (photo credit: GPO)


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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Likud ministers on Sunday that he would appoint an immigrant absorption minister by a midnight deadline and pass the appointment by a telephone vote.

Netanyahu is being forced by the Supreme Court to appoint a minister to replace Sofa Landver, whose resignation took effect on November 18 along with that of her Yisrael Beytenu party leader, former defense minister Avigdor Liberman after the party left Netanyahu's governing coalition.

Speculation so far has centered primary on Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely from Netanyahu's Likud Party. She has boasted about her qualifications for the post after running the Foreign Minister with Netanyahu as the minister over her.

But there is a chance that Netanyahu will choose not to promote anyone from Likud, because appointing one candidate will disappoint whoever is not promoted.

Also, promoting Hotovely from deputy minister to minister will add another minister who Netanyahu would have to appoint if he forms another government. That could prove difficult when former ministers Gideon Sa'ar and Danny Danon return, and former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat is also aiming for a senior portfolio.

The Kulanu party sent messages to Netanyahu over the weekend that the party deserves another portfolio, because it is underrepresented in the cabinet. Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon wants the job given to Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Michael Oren, but there are those in the party who want it instead given to its Russian-speaking MK Tali Ploskov.

Ploskov, a native of Moldova, has not distinguished herself in the Knesset and is among its least known MKs, but appointing her could help Kulanu win more support from Russian speakers in the 2019 election.

Oren, who was born in New York and raised in New Jersey, is an expert on American and British Jewry and has become conversant in French, which he has been studying intensely for two years. He lives in Tel Aviv in a building whose residents are primarily French speaking.

In closed conversations, Oren has argued that it is important to give the job to someone like him, because the potential for new immigrants to Israel is in France, England and the US more than the former Soviet Union. A former Israeli ambassador to the US, he has ideas for how to bring 100,000 immigrants from the US over the next decade and believes the political situation in England could lead to a massive rise in emigration from there.

"This is a historic opportunity," Oren said. "Forty percent of British Jews have said that tf Jeremy Corbyn is elected, they would consider leaving the country. We can't afford to lose them the way we lost so many French Jews to Montreal." 

Netanyahu told the ministers he would appoint a foreign minister in January. Likud ministers Israel Katz, Gilad Erdan and Yuval Steinitz are considered among the top candidates.

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