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Following the selection of Prof. Daniel Friedman to be justice minister on Tuesday, Kadima officials said they hoped Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would also make a "professional appointment" to head the Social Affairs Ministry.
The two names raised were Minister-without-Portfolio Ya'acov Edri and MK Marina Solodkin, both of Kadima. But the appointment of Solodkin, who is not a minister, is considered a long shot, because Olmert already filled his party's vacancy in the cabinet with Friedman.
Solodkin is an activist on behalf of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Edri was mayor of the low-income town of Or Akiva for 16 years.
"I hope the portfolio goes to me, but I can't say it's definite," Edri said. "Social issues are the most important issues for me. I believe the Social Affairs Ministry needs a professional, and I could contribute from my vast experience as a mayor of many years."
Solodkin said she hoped Friedman's appointment would start a trend of appointing professionals to every position, starting with defense minister. She also said she had accepted that she would not be a minister in this government.
"The prime minister had every opportunity to appoint me after the election, and he didn't," Solodkin said. "My constituents have fled from Kadima, but I have continued serving their interests as a member of Knesset, succeeding despite the unfriendly atmosphere" in the party.
Olmert still must fill vacancies in the Social Affairs Ministry; the Science, Culture and Sport Ministry; and the Knesset Finance Committee. Israel Beiteinu is expected to receive the Finance Committee chairmanship and one portfolio. Both spots would be fought over by MKs Yisrael Hason, Estherina Tartman and Yitzhak Aharonovich.
Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman denied reports that he had decided on Tartman to be a minister.
Kadima officials asked Labor to decide by Wednesday to choose between accepting the Social Affairs portfolio and giving up the Tourism Ministry, and keeping the Science, Culture and Sport Ministry and giving up on the Social Affairs Ministry.
One scenario discussed would entail splitting the Science, Culture and Sport Ministry, giving the Science portfolio to Israel Beiteinu and allowing Minister-without-Portfolio Ghaleb Majadle of Labor to be culture and sports minister. In such a scenario, the Social Affairs portfolio could go to Edri.