Appointments delay not due to Deri, coalition chairman says

Likud slams Liberman for echoing Herzog’s ‘babbling’

Arye Deri (Shas) (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Arye Deri (Shas)
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A long-awaited series of ministerial appointments by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not been put on hold pending an appeal against Shas leader Arye Deri’s return to the Interior Ministry, coalition chairman Tzachi Hanegbi said Sunday.
Likud sources had said that Netanyahu wanted to wait to see the outcome of the Movement for Quality Government’s petition to prevent the Deri appointment before he would appoint other ministers.
The Court is expected to rule on February 9 whether Deri can keep the post, even though he was forced to leave the Interior Ministry the last time he held the portfolio due to a corruption investigation that led to his conviction.
But Hanegbi said reports that the Deri case was the reason for the delay were incorrect. He did not speculate as to why the appointments had not yet taken place.
Netanyahu is expected to add Hanegbi to the cabinet in place of departed Likud minister Silvan Shalom.
The prime minister is expected to meet later this week with Kulanu head Moshe Kahlon to determine whether Netanyahu will appoint another Likud minister.
One scenario that has become increasingly unlikely is that Yisrael Beytenu will join the coalition and receive the portfolios that are available. Netanyahu had hoped for months that Avigdor Liberman’s party would be enticed to enter the government but that is no longer seen as a likely scenario by top Likud officials.
The Likud released a statement attacking Liberman on Monday for saying at the site of the Tekoa terrorist attack, “Israel lacks a functioning prime minister,” and that as a result, the people of Israel lack security.
The Likud statement noted that Liberman was mimicking a recent slogan by the Zionist Union.
“Liberman has joined the babbling campaign of his partner in the opposition, [Zionist Union MK Isaac] Herzog,” the statement said.
“While the prime minister is leading a determined struggle against terrorism with unprecedented steps, Liberman and Herzog are engaging in petty politics and using sites of attacks to scrape a few more votes.”
The Likud urged Liberman not to take away blame for the current wave of violence from Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
In his speech in Tekoa, Liberman called on the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria to organize mass demonstrations against the government. He questioned why settler leaders were not protesting, suggesting that it is because they are members of Likud.
A source connected to the council responded that Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan had in fact led major demonstrations against the Netanyahu government, even though he is a member of Likud.