Analysis: Bulldozing the bulldozer

Could Israel lose both Ben-Eliezer and Katz in just under a week – one to death and the other to political demise?

September 4, 2016 00:34
2 minute read.
Israel Katz‏

Intelligence Services Minister Israel Katz‏. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

There are two cabinet ministers who over the past 20 years have been regularly referred to as “bulldozers,” because they get so much accomplished.

The first one, veteran Labor Party minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, died last week.

While his sons blamed the deterioration of his health on the police investigation of him, it may be a coincidence that he got sick immediately after leaving the cabinet for the last time.

The other is the Likud’s Israel Katz, who arguably is the only minister who can go across the country and brag about his noticeable accomplishments that have helped improve the lives of countless people.

In Israel, it is rare that a politician keeps a portfolio for more than three years.

Katz has been transportation minister since 2009, which has enabled him to see key national projects through from start to finish.

Could Israel lose both Ben-Eliezer and Katz in just under a week – one to death and the other to political demise? That will largely depend on the outcry in the Likud against his prospective firing by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Katz is extremely popular in the party. He controls the Likud’s governing secretariat. His annual party on Succot attracts thousands of people.

But Netanyahu does not like it when anyone under him gets too popular. Profiles of Katz that portrayed him as a future prime minister understandably irked Netanyahu.

In particularly poor timing, Katz complained about Netanyahu in an interview that ran Saturday on Channel 2’s program Anashim, which profiles politicians in the comfort of their homes.

Excerpts of the show were shown Thursday night on the nightly news.

Katz complained on the show that Netanyahu does not know how to compliment his ministers when they are successful. He also suggested that Netanyahu holds too many portfolios, singling out the Communications Ministry as one that does not have to be controlled by the prime minister.

That ministry is the baby of Netanyahu, who is eager to create competition in the media. His critics say controlling the media is his main goal.

Netanyahu tolerated Katz when he gained too much popularity. He let it pass when Katz took steps to limit the power of the party chairman inside Likud institutions. But perhaps the criticism of Netanyahu for controlling the Communications Ministry was one step too far.

That may be the real reason if the bulldozer indeed ends up getting bulldozed.

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