Moshe Yaalon 88 248.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The cabinet on Sunday approved the establishment of three new government ministries, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appointed fellow Likud MKs to lead them.
The new Intelligence Ministry will be headed by Dan Meridor; the Strategic Affairs Ministry, by Moshe Ya'alon; and the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Ministry, by Yuli Edelstein. The total price tag for the three ministries is expected to surpass NIS 100 million per year.
The Strategic Affairs Ministry is not exactly a new position - Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman held a similar position before he pulled his party out of the last government.
Also on Sunday, MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) said she would reintroduce legislation that she wrote during the previous Knesset to reduce the security details assigned to all government ministers. Co-sponsors of Yacimovich's bill will include former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) deputy director Yisrael Hasson (Kadima).
A report in the Hebrew-language financial daily Calcalist suggested that the security details cost between NIS 3.5 million and NIS 4m. per minister each year. With a government of 29 ministers, the annual price tag will exceed NIS 100m. Cabinet members are currently entitled to a personal bodyguard 24 hours a day, a security detail to guard their vehicle and round-the-clock security at their home.
Two ministers - National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau (Israel Beiteinu) and Minister of Improvement of Government Services Michael Eitan (Likud) - said during the meeting that the government should reexamine the amount of money spent on security for cabinet members. Other ministers pointed to the 2001 assassination of then-tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi in Jerusalem as evidence that the security details are necessary.
Each of the new ministers will be allowed to hire six assistants and advisers, as well as a director-general.
But the buck does not stop with the new ministries - eight new positions will be created for each of the offices of the seven ministers-without-portfolio and the three deputy ministers in the government.
Kadima was quick to attack the cabinet decision, saying in a statement that the government was "setting new records of audacity and thoughtlessness."
"The government of ministers-for-nothing is today adding to its ranks hundreds of 'nothing appointments,' and does not include a single minister who can look the public in the eye," the statement read. "There has never been a more detached government here."
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