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Benjamin Netanyahu at a Cabinet meeting.(Photo by: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Netanyahu to appoint Immigration Absorption Minister in the next week
By LAHAV HARKOV
12/14/2018
Foreign Minister decision waiting until next month; PM’s position as Defense Minister to go to Knesset vote.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to appoint an immigration absorption minister in the next week, the agenda for Sunday’s cabinet meeting states.

Netanyahu has not yet decided who will get the portfolio, his spokesman said. Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely is the only Likud MK who has been actively lobbying for the immigration absorption minister position, but someone who is already a minister from the Likud could take it on as an additional ministry.

Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren has also expressed interest, but is a less likely choice, since he is in the Kulanu party.

The decision of who will be made foreign minister will wait until some point in January, a delay that was approved by the Attorney-General’s Office, according to Netanyahu’s spokeswoman.

In addition, Netanyahu’s retention of the defense portfolio will be brought to the Knesset for approval, though he has not yet set a date for the vote.

The defense and immigration portfolios were vacated last month, when Avigdor Liberman resigned from the former and took his Yisrael Beytenu party out of the coalition.

Netanyahu automatically retained both ministries, in addition to the premiership, the Foreign Ministry and the Health Ministry, which he holds, the latter being mostly controlled by Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman. He would have automatically remained defense and immigration and absorption minister for three months, until mid-February.

However, the Defense Ministry is legally different from other ministries in that, if there is no minister in charge, its director-general does not control everything under its purview.

That means that if the Knesset does not confirm Netanyahu as defense minister and an election is called, a situation could come up in which his tenure as defense minister expires, the Knesset cannot confirm him because it has been dissolved, and the IDF chief of staff is left without any political entity with authority over him.

The Movement for Quality Government, which had petitioned against Netanyahu holding five portfolios at once, praised the announcement.

“It’s unfortunate that only under the sword of legal action in the Supreme Court did the prime minister act as he should have a month ago,” the movement stated, “and it is not clear to us why we have to wait another month to appoint a foreign minister.”

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