Deputy Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened a cabinet meeting two weeks ago by heralding the accomplishments of Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud), who has been running the ministry under Netanyahu, a portfolio the prime minister officially holds.
So why did he appoint Minister- without-Portfolio Tzachi Hanegbi as regional cooperation minister over Kara’s head on Tuesday night? Likud sources revealed to The Jerusalem Post that Netanyahu was concerned that the Supreme Court might make him give up one of the three portfolios he held in addition to being prime minister: Foreign Affairs, Communications, and Regional Cooperation.
A deadline was looming for him to either give up a portfolio or explain why he was holding so many.
Netanyahu decided to keep the two portfolios that were dear to him and jettison the Regional Cooperation Ministry that Kara was running as a deputy, because Netanyahu could not appoint another minister from Likud. He gave the portfolio to Hanegbi, who lacked one, but will still let Kara continue the projects he was working on.
Running the Regional Cooperation Ministry, Kara initiated projects and advanced others that were started by previous heads of the ministry, including Silvan Shalom and Shimon Peres. Some of the projects involved cooperation with Jordan and other Muslim countries. Many helped the economic development of Palestinians.
The top accomplishment of the ministry under Kara was the Red Sea to Dead Sea pipeline, designed to help revive the Dead Sea. Factories are also being built that treat water and provide electricity for use by Israelis, Jordanians, and Palestinians.
One is the Jericho Industrial Park, sponsored by Japan, which helps Palestinian export to Arab World through the Allenby Crossing in the Jordan Valley. A bridge called Gateway to Jordan is being built near Beit She’an in the Emek Hama’ayanot Regional Council that will enable free trade for Israel and Jordan.
With the aid of Turkey, an industrial park is being advanced in Jenin that will help Turkey export to the West without taxes while helping Palestinians.
Kara also approved allowing 1,500 Jordanian workers to come in daily through Eilat, replacing African migrants.