Netanyahu at cabinet meeting.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will continue to hold four portfolios due to a dispute with the heads of parties in his coalition over how many Likud ministers he is permitted to appoint, Likud sources said Monday.
In addition to being prime minister, Netanyahu is minister of foreign affairs, the economy, communication and regional cooperation. He officially gave up the Interior portfolio Monday night when the Knesset approved the appointment of Shas leader Arye Deri and the Health portfolio in September to United Torah Judaism chairman Ya’acov Litzman.
Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon and Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett told Netanyahu that their factions would oppose him appointing more than one Likud minister, because they will insist the ratio of ministers for each party is maintained.
Kahlon said Likud had received an extra portfolio at the expense of UTJ before the High Court ruled that Litzman could not control the Health Ministry as a deputy minister.
Netanyahu met at the Knesset Monday with Kahlon but they failed to reach conclusions on how to resolve their dispute.
They are set to meet again next week, so the appointments will not be made until at least then.
Likud MKs have said Netanyahu told them he will not appoint ministers from the party until after the February 23 Likud leadership race, but a spokesman for the prime minister said it may happen sooner.
The first Likud portfolio will go to coalition chairman Tzachi Hanegbi. If the Likud had a second, it was expected to go to MK Bennie Begin.
But he told Army Radio Monday that he preferred to remain a “simple MK” and not even take the chairmanship of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which is expected to be relinquished by Hanegbi.
“I see success in my work in Knesset committees,” Begin said. “I think I can benefit the public more as a member of three committees than as the chairman of one.”
Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara warned Monday that he must be first in line to become a minister and not Hanegbi. He noted that he has always been loyal to Likud, while Hanegbi broke away from Likud when Kadima was formed.
“There is no need to give a portfolio to a man who went to Kadima and tried to destroy Likud,” he said.