Netanyahu taps Ya'alon as new Defense Minister

PM meets with Likud MKs to assign portfolios; Gilad Erdan to take on Home Front Security and Communications portfolios.

Moshe Ya’alon serious with Likud sign 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Moshe Ya’alon serious with Likud sign 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday chose Likud MK and former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon to be Israel's next defense minister. Danny Danon was appointed as deputy defense minister.
Outgoing Environmental Protection Minister, Gilad Erdan, has accepted the Home Front Security and Communications portfolios. As Communications Minister, Erdan will be in charge of the Israel Broadcast Agency and the Government Publications Bureau. He will also be responsible for the strategic relationship with the US.
Ofir Akunis was appointed Deputy Minister Connecting the Government and the Knesset, while Tzachi Hanegbi will head the Knesset House Committee for a year and a half. When Hanegbi becomes a Deputy Minister, he will trade positions with Akunis.
Haim Katz will continue heading the Knesset Labor, Health and Welfare Committee.
Netanyahu was set to meet with a swath of Likud MKs on Sunday to hand out the ministerial posts, among them Gideon Sa'ar, Yuval Steinitz, Israel Katz, Miri Regev, Gila Gamliel, Limor Livnat, Moshe Feiglin, Tzipi Hotovely and Yariv Levin.
Former foreign minister and one-time deputy prime minister Silvan Shalom has warned that he will only accept a senior ministerial position. Netanyahu is likely to offer Shalom to keep his current post of minister for development of the Negev and Galilee. Shalom was one of several veteran lawmakers pushed down the list in the party's primaries in November.
Keeping their jobs are Transportation Minister Israel Katz and Sport and Culture Minister Limor Livnat. Meanwhile, outgoing Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, who is being replaced by key coalition partner Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid, will be moving to the Strategic Affairs Ministry, the Israel media reported.
Outgoing Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar is the leading candidate for interior minister, and MK Yariv Levin was asked to be the next coalition chairman, but has yet to accept the position. Former coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin is likely to be deputy foreign minister, at the insistence of former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman, who will return to his previous position if he is exonerated in his corruption trial.
Likud activists have asked to call a central committee meeting, expressing anger at the “disproportionate” number of posts the Yisrael Beytenu section of Likud Beytenu received – five portfolios (Foreign, Agriculture, Tourism, Immigration Absorption and Public Security) and a committee chairmanship for 11 of its MKs.