Netanyahu taps Israel Katz as acting foreign minister
Sunday 17/February/2019 - 11:17 AM
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu named Israel Katz as acting foreign minister on Sunday، two months after having said he would give up the portfolio، The Times Of Israel reported.
Katz، who is placed third on the Likud party’s slate for April’s elections، is already intelligence and transportation minister. The nomination is set to come to a vote at Sunday’s cabinet meeting. Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz، thought to be a frontrunner for the position، offered his congratulations to Katz، telling reporters outside the cabinet meeting that he wishes him luck in the position، the Ynet news site reported.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan، whose name was also said to be on the shortlist، also offered his congratulations while noting he would not interfere with the nomination process.
“I congratulate Katz and wish him great success. Of course we are not interfering with how the prime minister divides up the portfolios and appointments،” Erdan said.
Netanyahu announced on Thursday that he would name the new acting minister in response to a petition filed at the High Court of Justice over the number of ministerial portfolios he holds. In addition to serving as prime minister، Netanyahu is also Israel’s defense، foreign and health minister.
The petition by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel was filed in December، when Netanyahu also held the immigration and absorption portfolio. Yoav Gallant has since been appointed to head that ministry.
The Movement for Quality Government said it welcomed the apparent plan to appoint a new minister to head Israeli diplomacy، though it noted the move only came under the threat of legal proceedings at the High Court.
“In our opinion، it is inappropriate that the prime minister came to a situation where he held such a large number of important portfolios، among them foreign and defense… we hope this unacceptable situation will not happen again،” it added.
Netanyahu has served as foreign minister since the formation of his government in 2015، a move that he initially justified by claiming he was keeping the position for then Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog، in an attempt to entice him into joining the government.
Several members of the prime minister’s own party were furious at the time that he did not appoint one of them as foreign minister، with senior Likud ministers Gilad Erdan and Katz claiming to have been promised the portfolio.
In November، Netanyahu announced he would keep the defense portfolio for himself following Avigdor Liberman’s resignation، saying Israel was in the “midst of a military campaign.” edited by: basant ahmed