Netanyahu convenes Knesset to present Israel’s 34th government

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the Knesset plenum on Thursday night at 9 P.M. to present Israel’s 34th government. The cabinet can only be sworn in after the Knesset votes on its composition.

Click here to watch the swearing-in live on the Knesset Channel (in Hebrew)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scrambled to distribute the remaining cabinet portfolios to the Knesset members of his Likud party on Wednesday evening, after the Knesset proposal to expand the government to an unlimited number of ministers to the previously capped 18 positions. 

The deliberations were meant to begin at 7 P.M., but were postponed due to disagreements with members of his Likud party slated for ministerial portfolios. 

Likud MKs Silvan Shalom and Gilad Erdan, who were slated to receive portfolios, have still not been told which ministerial positions they will receive. Neither of the MKs were present at the Knesset’s deliberation on the new cabinet.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz will retain the transport portfolio, and will receive the intelligence portfolio as well. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon will retain his position as well. MK Yuval Steinitz will be appointed as minister of energy and infrastructure, and will have a seat in the security cabinet.

Netanyahu will handle the communications portfolio, and Likud MK Ofir Akunis will serve as a minister within the Communications Ministry. The prime minister also chose to keep the foreign ministry portfolio, possibly to be used later to entice the Zionist Union into the coalition.

One of the most pitched battles in the party was resolved when it was announced that MK Haim Katz would get the Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry that he had thought was his from the beginning.

His challenger for the post, MK Miri Regev, will make do with the Culture and Sport Ministry. Regev and Netanyahu have had a hostile relationship for the past few years, which Regev tried to improve during the recent election campaign. She is considered to be a loyal ally of Netanyahu’s political rival, Gideon Sa’ar, and several Likud officials have warned Netanyahu about putting a "Sa’ar extension" inside the cabinet.

MK Yariv Levin will be tourism minister and cabinet liaison to the Knesset, while MK Tzipi Hotovely will serve as deputy foreign minister.

Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett will serve as education minister, his colleagues Ayelet Shaked will head the justice ministry and Uri Ariel will be agriculture minister.

Kulanu Chairman Moshe Kahlon is the new finance minister, co-party member Yoav Gallant will be housing minister, and Avi Gabai will apparently be environmental protection minister.

From Shas, chairman Arye Dery will take the economy ministry and the portfolio for the development of the Galilee and Negev. David Azoulay will head the religious affairs ministry.

United Torah Judaism MK Ya’akov Litzman will once again serve as deputy health minister.

Source: http://www.haaretz.com/news/israel/1.656536

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