MKs pressed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at a Knesset special session on Tuesday to explain why he had failed to appoint a welfare minister.
Addressing the assembled MKs, Olmert said he had initially kept the welfare minister portfolio open for members of United Torah Judaism (UTJ), whom he had hoped to add to the coalition. However, negotiations with UTJ had run into some snags, and the position remained unfilled.
Meretz, Likud, and Arab MKs led the debate, which 40 MKs had signed a petition for Olmert to attend. However, less than a quarter of the Knesset members were present at the discussion - a fact which drew harsh criticism from the prime minister.
Despite the session's poor attendance, it was rumored that Kadima MK Ya'acov Edri would announce his nomination for welfare minister on Wednesday. However, Edri's spokesperson denied any knowledge of such an arrangement, saying that no meeting had been set up between Edri and Olmert to discuss the subject.