Disgruntled Likud MKs could maneuver against Netanyahu

Prominent Likud members and MKs did not receive the ministerial posts they hoped for - several already voiced their displeasure with the PM.

 PM Netanyahu with several of his ministers at the swearing-in ceremony of the new government in the Knesset, December 29 2022. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
PM Netanyahu with several of his ministers at the swearing-in ceremony of the new government in the Knesset, December 29 2022.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

A group of Likud MKs who did not receive the roles they wanted expressed their disapproval in recent days. These include Yisrael Katz, Dudi Amsalem, David Bitan, Danny Danon and Yuli Edelstein.

Netanyahu announced to Katz on Wednesday that he would receive the second part of a rotation in the Foreign Ministry. Katz reportedly refused the offer, and the negotiations went on until literally the last minute, as Netanyahu continued to receive and send notes with proposals after the Knesset plenum had already begun its debate to ratify the government.

Katz, who is considered a leading candidate to replace Netanyahu when the Likud leader steps down, was absent when Netanyahu presented the government.

The final agreement was a 1-2-1 arrangement, where Eli Cohen will serve as foreign minister and Katz as energy minister for one year; then the two will swap for two years; and then both will return to their original ministerial positions for the final and fourth year.

Amsalem announced throughout the negotiations that he wanted to be either justice minister or Knesset speaker. He received neither, and reportedly shouted his displeasure at Netanyahu during a Likud faction meeting on Wednesday. Bitan cannot serve as a minister because he is going through criminal proceedings, but repeatedly expressed his displeasure during the negotiation period, arguing that Netanyahu was giving up too much to the Likud’s partners.

 Then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Likud MK David (Dudi) Amsalem during a faction meeting, November 19, 2018. (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90) Then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Likud MK David (Dudi) Amsalem during a faction meeting, November 19, 2018. (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)

Maneuvering against Netanyahu

Danon expressed his disappointment on Wednesday, as did Edelstein, who will likely serve as Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman.

Although these MKs are not expected to leave the coalition, they could maneuver against Netanyahu within the Likud in order to promote their own interests.

Katz, Edelstein and Danon have all served as senior ministers, but finished low on the Likud list after poor showings at the primaries, and therefore weren’t given top positions.

On the other hand, newer Likud MKs who demonstrated their loyalty to Netanyahu, including Amir Ohana (Knesset speaker), Eli Cohen, Yoav Kisch (education minister) and Shlomo Karhi (communications minister), received generous promotions.

There are still a number of government positions left, such as regional cooperation minister, and Netanyahu may still attempt to appease some of these disappointed MKs, but it remains to be seen how this affects the Likud and the coalition’s operations.