Likud's Israel Katz claims Netanyahu 'has to' give him Finance Ministry

The former finance minister claimed that he had a strong faction supporting him within the Likud Party, posing a threat to Netanyahu.

Israel Katz chats with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Israel Katz chats with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Israel Katz intends to become finance minister, he said in recordings obtained by N12 on Sunday, adding that he holds enough power in the Likud to force party leader Benjamin Netanyahu to give him the position.

"Bibi (a nickname for Netanyahu) gives positions to two people, to two types: those who he wants [to give to] and those who he has to give to. The more certain are the ones he has to give to. It's a lot more certain to receive a position this way," said Katz.

"He can leave the Likud for the end, but in the end, even in the Likud there is a circle and there is a faction and there are people and there are forces," added the Likud MK.

Katz stressed that he doesn't need to prove that he is the "most significant" member of the Likud. 

The Likud MK claimed that Netanyahu "has to" give him the position he wants as he is part of a strong faction within Likud, including Dudi Amsalem, David Bitan, Jacky Levy and Avraham Neguise, May Golan, Nissim Vaturi and Hanoch Milwidsky.

 Likud MK Israel Katz speaks during a Conference of Heads of Local Authorities, in Ramat Negev, southern Israel, July 22, 2021.  (credit: FLASH90) Likud MK Israel Katz speaks during a Conference of Heads of Local Authorities, in Ramat Negev, southern Israel, July 22, 2021. (credit: FLASH90)

"In short, let's put it this way, it's not that there are going to be fights here now. But in the end I'm the chairman of the secretariat, I'm dominant in Likud, I was also in the position [of finance minister] and that's legitimate," said Katz in the recording published by N12. "No one can say a word once he says continue as finance minister. [Likud MK] Eli Cohen (who is also reportedly interested in being finance minister), give him the transportation case and he will kiss Bibi's hands all day long."

"We have seen [Netanyahu's] 'soldiers,' [they're now] state witnesses, all his soldiers. He surrounded himself with soldiers."

Likud MK Israel Katz

Katz dismissed concerns that Netanyahu would prefer a "loyal soldier," stating "We have seen his 'soldiers,' [they're now] state witnesses, all his soldiers. He surrounded himself with soldiers," in an apparent reference to associates of Netanyahu now testifying against the Likud leader in criminal cases against him.

Katz also attacked fellow party member Nir Barkat, claiming that Barkat tried to stop people from going to a conference set up by Katz.

The Likud MK responded to the publication of the recordings, stating that they were recorded "contrary to any norm" from a "private conversation seasoned with humor."

"Katz is happy that he meets both of the assumed criteria for the appointment of ministers, both by virtue of his excellent ties with Netanyahu and their joint stately work over many years and by virtue of his senior political position in the Likud and the Likud faction in the Knesset," said Katz. "MK Katz trusts Netanyahu's judgment in appointing government ministers."

Likud members demand senior positions

Other Likud members have also begun demanding specific positions in recent days, as Netanyahu meets with other party leaders to negotiate the distribution of ministries.

In a Channel 13 interview, incoming Likud MK Danny Dannon stated that he would request the position of Knesset speaker, adding that Likud members "would not settle for crumbs."

"I conveyed a very clear message. I come with a lot of experience, both at the parliamentary level and at the political level. I marked the position of Knesset speaker for me, not the position of coalition chairman, and I think I am the most suitable."

Ofir Akunis has also reportedly requested the position of Knesset speaker.

Likud members react to Katz's comments

After the recordings were published, sources close to Netanyahu warned that "Netanyahu is not impressed by threats. Whoever threatens will find himself left out and not in the Foreign Ministry."

May Golan, who Katz said was part of his faction within Likud, rejected the MK's statements, tweeting on Sunday "I am here to help Netanyahu form a government! I am not part of any faction except for the Likud faction led by Netanyahu. Only Netanyahu will determine who will be minister, not anyone else."