PM to lose Communications portfolio following protracted legal battle

Likud sources revealed to 'The Post' on Tuesday that the premier will likely lose the post due the lawsuits and his predicament with the ongoing police investigations against him.

PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during question time at the Knesset yesterday (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during question time at the Knesset yesterday
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will soon relinquish the Communications portfolio, due to investigations and lawsuits, Likud sources told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Netanyahu will likely give the post to a Likud minister who has been one of his strongest defenders while he has been under fire in recent weeks, Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi.
Hanegbi would then give his current post to Minister-without- Portfolio Ayoub Kara, who will return to the ministry where he was the deputy minister until two weeks ago.
Another Likud source said Netanyahu would do every- thing possible to keep the Communications portfolio and would “not give it up without a fight.” But the changes must be made by February 20 in order to avoid violating a court order issued Tuesday night by the High Court of Justice. The court gave Netanyahu until that date to explain why he has not given up the Communications and Foreign Affairs portfolios, or at least suspended himself from the former.
The court did not say whether the injunction was ordered because Netanyahu holds too many portfolios, because of his conflicts of interest in the Communications Ministry or for both reasons.
When Yesh Atid complained to the court that Netanyahu held too many portfolios, Netanyahu preferred to relinquish the Health and Regional Cooperation portfolios rather than respond to the court. But the Communications portfolio is much more sensitive for Netanyahu, who refused to give it up when his government was formed and in subsequent talks aimed at widening his coalition.
“We think that due to his multiple portfolios, conflicts of interest and his efforts to weaken the Communications Ministry, he should leave that job and also give the Foreign Affairs portfolio to a full-time minister,” attorney Shani Brown of the Movement for Quality Government, which petitioned the court, told the Post.
Benjamin Netanyahu dismissive of corruption allegations on January 2, 2017
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog submitted his own petition about the Communications Ministry to the court a week later, but the court made reference to the Foreign Ministry as well, indicating that it was responding to the petition of the movement, not Herzog.
“This was an important decision,” Herzog said, claiming credit for it. “The time has come for Netanyahu to give up the Communications portfolio and end his conflict of interest.”