Netanyahu appoints Hotovely, Bitan to ministerial posts

Netanyahu appointed Bitan despite his impending indictment for bribery, money laundering, fraud, breach of trust and tax offenses.

Tzipi Hotovely visits Temple Mount (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Tzipi Hotovely visits Temple Mount
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a series of appointments to the cabinet on Sunday for posts that he had to give up due to his criminal indictments.
Netanyahu appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) as Diaspora affairs minister MK David Bitan (Likud) as agriculture minister, Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen as construction minister and current Construction Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton (Likud-Kulanu) as welfare minister.
The prime minister appointed Bitan despite his impending indictment for bribery, money laundering, fraud, breach of trust and tax offenses. The Israel Police recommended in March the prosecution indict Bitan, who is alleged to have received hundreds of thousands of shekels and a promise to receive apartments as bribes from 2011 to 2017 during his term as Rishon Lezion deputy mayor and as a Knesset member.
"The prime minister who has become an escaped fugitive is not appointing a man alleged of bribery to a post that sets the price of food for all of us," Blue and White said in a statement. "This is how the Netanyahu government has become a crime family whose only goal is to ensure immunty for its leader."
The Likud responded that Netanyahu decided to appoint Bitan a minister long before the investigations against him and kept his word.
Hotovely's appointment is also controversial, due a November 2017 interview with i24 in which she said that American Jews do not understand the reality of life in Israel because they do not send their children to the military or live under the threat of missile fire. She apologized for the statement.
"I thank Prime Minister Netanyahu for the appointment in which I will be fully committed to the government's policy that every Jew should feel at home in Israel," Hotovely said Sunday. "Accordingly, I will work to enhance the ties between Israel and all Jewish communities and denominations of Judaism around the world. I also look forward to working with them in the great task of battling the rising tide of global Antisemitism."

Facing a High Court of Justice petition, Netanyahu on December 12 announced he would drop all his portfolios on January 1 other than his role as prime minister. Netanyahu announced shortly before midnight on Wednesday he was quitting his cabinet posts because of his criminal indictments. The resignations took effect early Sunday but Netanyahu will technically remain in all the posts until the new appointments are approved.
Netanyahu was also the health minister until last Sunday, when the cabinet approved the promotion of deputy health minister Ya’acov Litzman (United Torah Judaism).
The Movement for Quality Government in Israel had said on Friday that the organization would strongly consider a lawsuit for shaming the court if Netanyahu did not appoint new ministers by Sunday.