Hanegbi to be appointed cabinet minister

Bitan to replace MK as Likud coalition chairman.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told MK Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) Monday that he will be appointed a cabinet minister when the Knesset summer session begins next week. Hanegbi is likely to be a minister without portfolio.
A shuffle in positions in the Likud has been long overdue, with a ministerial post left open since then-interior minister Silvan Shalom resigned in December amid sexual misconduct allegations. The Interior Ministry was given to Shas chairman Arye Deri, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu retained Deri’s economy portfolio.
Hanegbi, a veteran MK and former minister, was thought to be the likely candidate for a ministerial post, though it was unclear which. Likud sources said Netanyahu had considered promoting a less-senior minister to the economy portfolio and giving Hanegbi the junior post.
The cabinet appointment will leave Hanegbi’s two positions in the Knesset – coalition chairman and Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman – open.
Knesset House Committee chairman David Bitan confirmed that Netanyahu told him he would become coalition chairman, beating out fellow Likud MKs Miki Zohar and Yoav Kisch for the job.
Kisch will replace Bitan at the helm of the House Committee in October.
Coalition sources said MK Avi Dichter (Likud), a former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief, would replace Hanegbi as Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman, though Dichter was unable to confirm the report. Likud MK Anat Berko, a doctor of criminology whose expertise is Palestinian suicide bombers, was another candidate for the job.
MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) called the appointment of a minister without portfolio wasteful in light of the four portfolios Netanyahu holds in addition to the premiership – Foreign Affairs, Economy, Communications and Regional Cooperation.
“Once again, the prime minister...
is wasting public funds to preserve his hold on power by endlessly distributing pointless political treats to Likud members,” Levy said. “Appointing a minister without portfolio is spitting in the public’s face.”