Settlement affairs minister still to be appointed

According to the coalition agreement, Yamina is entitled to appoint its fourth minister, the minister of settlement affairs.

Coalition members at the Knesset, 3 November, 2021. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Coalition members at the Knesset, 3 November, 2021.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The uproar over the appointment of another deputy minister will not prevent yet another ministerial appointment, sources in the coalition revealed on Tuesday. 

New Hope MK Meir Yitzhak Halevy was sworn in as deputy education minister on Monday, becoming the sixth deputy minister. There are 28 ministers in what is Israel’s third-largest government ever. 

Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who faced intense criticism, apologized for the size of the government on Monday, promising that the next government would have only eighteen ministers.

But according to the coalition agreement, Yamina is entitled to appoint its fourth minister, just like New Hope has done. That minister is supposed to be the minister of settlement affairs, a post once held by the Likud’s Tzachi Hanegbi and Tzipi Hotovely.

An agreement between Prime Minister and Yamina leader Naftali Bennett and the Bayit Yehudi party earmarked Yamina’s final portfolio for Bayit Yehudi’s leader, Deputy Jerusalem Mayor Hagit Moshe.

 THE LEADERS of the coalition in the Knesset last month.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) THE LEADERS of the coalition in the Knesset last month. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Bayit Yehudi is not interested in joining the current government. An agreement is being worked out between Yamina and Bayit Yehudi to give Moshe’s party control over religious councils and funding for municipal candidates in return for the portfolio. A meeting on the portfolio was held this week.

“There was a push to get our minister and New Hope’s deputy appointed together,” a Yamina source revealed. “It didn’t get done on time. But talks are still ongoing.”

Bennett would like to give the portfolio to MK Nir Orbach, who would then quit the Knesset via the Norwegian Law and enable Yamina director-general Stella Weinstein to enter the Knesset. Orbach would be the 22nd minister or deputy minister in the current government to quit via the law.

The prime minister praised residents of Judea and Samaria on Tuesday, following the criticism of violent settlers by Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev (Labor). Bennett would like to appoint a settlement affairs minister as soon as possible as a gesture to a sector that he sees as part of his political base.

Meanwhile, the head of the Knesset Guard, Yuval Chen, ordered that Ra’am (United Arab List) head Mansour Abbas be given a bodyguard. Abbas has recently been the victim of violent threats made against him during right-wing protests.

Tal Spungin contributed to this report.