Israel Katz & Gilad Erdan: Foreign affairs fighters, future Likud leaders

#31: Israel Katz & Gilad Erdan

Erdan and Katz  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Erdan and Katz
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
He may not have the eloquence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but it was Foreign Minister Israel Katz who was chosen to replace Netanyahu and deliver the speech of his life to the United Nations General Assembly. Katz has proven that Netanyahu is not the only Likudnik who can warn the world against Iran.
That speech has been the career highlight so far for Katz, who started as acting foreign minister in February after Netanyahu held the post since the beginning of his last term.
Foreign Ministry staff have complained that he has not made his mark at the ministry, which is ailing for funds, respect and clout. They had hopes that Katz would be able to use his power in Likud to help the ministry, which has suffered from cutbacks and the removal of key responsibilities under Netanyahu. They say that Katz has not done this.
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Before his promotion, Katz was the transportation minister for a decade, building highways and trains all over the country.
One of the ministries that took powers away from the Foreign Ministry was the Ministry of Intelligence, led by Gilad Erdan.
Erdan’s strategy was to move from defense to offense, by revealing to world leaders the BDS movement’s propagation of antisemitism and ties to terrorist groups, like Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Wearing his other hat as Public Security Minister, Erdan drastically increased the hiring of Arab police officers and the police presence in the Arab sector. Thanks to Erdan, the police are now also armed with body cameras that document what they do.
Politically, Katz and Erdan have proven themselves time and time again, winning the top slots on the Likud list after Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. Katz attracts thousands every year to his Succot party near his home in Moshav Kfar Ahim, which is also the birthplace of Blue and White leader Benny Gantz.
Both Katz and Erdan are expected to be candidates for Likud leader and prime minister in the post-Netanyahu era.
Erdan declined a proposal to replace Danny Danon as Israel’s ambassador to the UN. Sources who spoke to Erdan said he made his decision out of fear that he could miss a Likud leadership race.
“He sees himself as a future Likud leader,” a source close to Erdan said. “A Likud leadership race doesn’t happen that often. If there is a chance for a Likud leadership race in which Gilad would either participate or support someone, he realizes it would be unwise to leave the country at this stage.”