Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has named three Likud Knesset Members as minister, but nine other posts remain vacant only a few hours before the scheduled launch of the new government at 7 p.m. (Noon EDT) Thursday.
The re-appointment of Moshe Ya’alon as Defense Minister is no surprise. He also will be the Deputy Prime Minister, taking Netanyahu’s place when he is out of the country. Ya’alon is a safe pick because he has not shown any ambition to become Prime Minister and is not one of those Likud members who cause Netanyahu trouble.
Yuval Steinitz, a close friend of Netanyahu and who was Minister of Strategic Affairs and Intelligence in the last government, will be Minister of Energy and Infrastructure. He also will be Netanyahu’s’ pivot for coordinating the campaign against nuclear Iran, one of Steinitz’s pet activities.
Yisrael Katz has been re-appointed as Transportation Minister and Intelligence Minister. Whether anyone likes him or not – he one of the old-guard party hacks – few question his outstanding work in expanding Israel’s railroad and highways.
Katz also will sit on the Security Cabinet
There are more Likud Knesset Members hungry for a ministry post than there are ministries.
Miri Regev, who was near the top in the Likud primaries, will most certainly receive a Cabinet post. Benny Begin, son of the late Prime Minister, will be a Minister without Portfolio.
Ofir Akunis officially will be Minister without Portfolio but in effect will head the Communications Ministry, a post that is Netanyahu keeping vacant.
Other Likud MKs in the running for other ministries are Tzipi Hotovely, Yariv Levin, Silvan Shalom, Gila Gamliel, Gilad Erdan, Ze’ev Elkin, Danny Danon and Chaim Katz.
Erdan has been a long-time nemesis to Netanyahu, and it is possible he will be left out of the Cabinet. He wanted to be Education Minister, but that post was given to Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) chairman Naftali Bennett. Then he wanted to be Foreign Minister, but that is a non-starter. Netanyahu also refused Erdan’s request to be Public Security Minister of Interior Minister, posts which Netanyahu has reserved for others.
If Prime Minister Netanyahu can finish the puzzle by 7 p.m., the Knesset will meet in special session.
If not, there always is another day.
New elections are four years away, or maybe tomorrow.