Nine more Kadima ministers finally found out what Interim Prime Minister Olmert had in store for them on Monday.
The government will include 25 ministers and, at this stage, have the support of 67 MKs from Kadima, Labor, Shas and the Gil Pensioners Party. Olmert met Monday with Kadima's senior candidates to notify them on their ministerial positions. Olmert is expected to present his government to the Knesset on Thursday.
The big winners of the day were Avraham Hirchson, Olmert's oldest political ally, who was promoted from the Tourism Ministry to the much-coveted Finance Ministry, and Ronny Bar-On, who will be appointed interior minister. That post, which has always been a powerful one, will become even more significant now that Kadima plans to build its nascent party apparatus through the control of local councils. Bar-On is seen by Olmert as a loyal and capable political operator, and he will also have the task of preparing the party for the municipal elections in a couple of years.
Tzipi Livni, who had already been assured that she would remain Foreign Minister, was promoted as well to vice prime minister, the post that Olmert held under Sharon. Shimon Peres will return to his post as minister for the development of the Negev and Galilee as promised him before the elections.
Another satisfied minister is Haim Ramon, who received the Justice Ministry in a large part due to his long-term efforts to bring about the alliance between parts of Likud and Labor in what has now become Kadima. The third Labor MK to have joined Kadima, Dalia Itzik, was also richly rewarded when Olmert nominated her the next Knesset Speaker.
The only Kadima minister to have never served in the cabinet before will be new MK Avi Dichter, the former head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), who above all owes his appointment as internal security minister to Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz, who ruled that Israel Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman could not fulfill the post due to the ongoing investigation against him.
The disappointed ministers are Shaul Mofaz, who was downgraded from defense to transportation minister but was compensated with the position of deputy prime minister and the responsibility for strategic dialog with other countries, and Meir Sheetrit, who set his hopes on the Treasury and even claimed that the job had been promised him but had to make do in the end with the housing ministry and responsibility for the security services.
Other disappointed ministers are Gideon Ezra, downgraded from internal security to environment minister; Ze'ev Boim, who hoped to receive a more substantial portfolio than absorption; and Ya'acov Edri who will be minister-without-portfolio in charge of liaising between the government and Knesset.
One interesting absence from the list of ministers is Marina Solodkin, the senior representative of the Russian community who was number seven on the Kadima list. Her omission is a result of what sources in Kadima referred to as her "not delivering the goods" and the feeling that the party failed to bring in a substantial proportion of the Russian vote.
In addition to Kadima's ministers, the cabinet is to include seven ministers from Labor: Defense Minister Amir Peretz, Education Minister Yuli Tamir, Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog, Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon, Minister-without-Portfolio at the head of culture, sports, and Jerusalem affairs Ophir Paz-Pines and Minister-without-Portfolio with responsibility for the Israel Broadcasting Authority Eitan Cabel.
The cabinet will also include four Shas ministers: Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai, Communications Minister Ariel Attias, and two ministers-without-portfolio, expected to be Yitzhak Cohen and Meshulam Nahari, one of whom will have responsibility for religious services.
Lastly, there will be two ministers from Gil: Rafi Eitan, who will be in charge of pensioners affairs, and Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri.
Yesterday, Kadima legal advisor Eitan Haberman presented the coalition agreements between the parties and the coalition guidelines to the Knesset secretariat. On Thursday, after a debate, the Knesset is expected to approve the agreements, guidelines and ministers, after which Olmert and his cabinet will be sworn in.
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