Benjamin Netanyahu leaves Nir Barkat out of government

Among the high profile Likud figures left without a portfolio are Gideon Sa'ar and Avi Dichter.

Likud MK Nir Barkat addresses a Kohelet Policy Forum event, February 12, 2020. (photo credit: MICHAL FATTAL/KOHELET POLICY FORUM)
Likud MK Nir Barkat addresses a Kohelet Policy Forum event, February 12, 2020.
(photo credit: MICHAL FATTAL/KOHELET POLICY FORUM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday that after giving out portfolios, he had no post left for former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat.
During the last election campaign, Netanyahu pronounced that Barkat would be the Likud's candidate for finance minister. But Netanyahu gave that plum post to the head of the Likud's governing secretariat, Israel Katz, and gave the party's other ministries to other candidates.
"Nir Barkat is fit for senior positions in Likud and the government," Netanyahu said. "Unfortunately, it did not work out before the swearing-in of the government. I will make a big effort to integrate MK Barkat into a senior post in the government in the future."
Barkat later wrote on his official Twitter page,  "I applaud the establishment of the new government, and I am glad that I have done my part for the cause, even if I do not serve as minister. I run long distances and will continue to use all my strength for our beloved state and whatever role I will play in the future."
Barkat was considered a candidate for the final posts Netanyahu filled on Sunday. But he gave the Education Ministry to Yoav Galant, the Environment portfolio to Gila Gamliel, the Energy Ministry to Yuval Steinitz and part of the Education and Energy portfolios in a new ministry for Ze'ev Elkin.
Elkin will be in charge of higher education and the state's water resources. Elkin, Steinitz and Galant will serve in the security cabinet.
In his speech presenting his cabinet to the Knesset, Netanyahu announced that he had decided to appoint Tzipi Hotovey as "Minister of settlements," with responsibility for key religious Zionist issues and Tzachi Hanegbi as a minister-without-portfolio in the Prime Minister's Office. Netanyahu said Hanegbi would receive Hotovely's responsibilities when she becomes an ambassador.
Among the high profile Likud figures left without a portfolio are Gideon Sa'ar and Avi Dichter. Sa'ar, who ran against Netanyahu for Likud leader, revealed that Netanyahu had offered him to serve as ambassador to the United States and United Nations - posts that later went to Gilad Erdan after Sa'ar rejected them.
"I have not heard a reason which could convince me or anybody else why I was not seen as worthy by him of the position of minister and a member of the security cabinet," said Dichter. "At the same time, I am a Likud man and a state man who respects decisions made by those in authority and will therefore support a government in which quite a few of my closest friends, members of the Likud are serving, and wish them success."
"It is a great honor to serve the Israeli nation and the State of Israel as a member of Knesset," Sa'ar wrote on his Twitter page.
The ministers will be sworn-in on Sunday evening after a confidence vote in the Knesset and a vote for the next Knesset speaker.
Yariv Levin (Likud), Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid) and Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) are the candidates for speaker.