Chikli resigns from Social Equality Ministry to cut spending during war in Gaza

In letter to PM, Likud minister calls for ‘adjustments to structure of government ministries,’ citing ‘tremendous economic challenges’ of fighting against Hamas

File - Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli speaks at the AJC Global Forum in Tel Aviv, on June 14, 2023 (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
File - Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli speaks at the AJC Global Forum in Tel Aviv, on June 14, 2023 (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Social Equality Minister Amichai Chikli stepped down from his post on Monday, in an effort to limit spending on what has widely been seen as an excessive number of government offices, the continued operation of which has come under renewed scrutiny since the outbreak of war following the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group’s shock onslaught three months ago.

Chikli will continue to serve as diaspora affairs minister, and also return to the Knesset in a move that will ostensibly force one of the ruling Likud party’s extra “Norwegian” lawmakers to resign.

An expansion of the so-called Norwegian Law last January allowed for a greater number of ministers and deputy ministers from large factions to resign from the Knesset, with their positions as MKs taken by members of their parties.

The supplementary budget for 2023 to cover the costs of the ongoing fighting in Gaza, which erupted on October 7 when some 3,000 Hamas terrorists stormed the border with Israel, killing some 1,200 people and kidnapping another 240 — mostly civilians, has faced criticism for allocating funding to government ministries and projects not connected to the war effort.

“On the eve of the upcoming budget year and with the understanding that we are facing tremendous economic challenges, I believe it’s necessary to make adjustments to the structure of the government ministries,” Chikli wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Channel 12 news.

“As such, I am relinquishing my position as social equality minister, and in addition, I am requesting to return to renew my term as a member of the Knesset in order to reduce further costs,” he addded in the letter.

Assuming he accepts Chikli’s resignation, Netanyahu will need to decide whether to appoint a new minister or close the office.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sits with Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli and Likud Minister May Golan (L) at the Knesset plenum in Jerusalem, on June 26, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

According to Hebrew media reports, Minister May Golan of Likud is expected to be the new social equality minister while her women’s advancement office — which was established just for her following the government’s formation — will be folded into Chikli’s old ministry.

Chikli was the third minister to step down from a ministerial post since October 7 and Israel’s subsequent military campaign in Gaza, which is aimed at destroying Hamas’s military and governance capabilities and returning the hostages.

Likud’s Galit Distel-Atbaryan resigned as public diplomacy minister days into the ongoing war, acknowledging that her newly created ministry had been unnecessary, powerless and a “waste of public money.” She has since said that she has “burning anger” against the prime minister for his part in the failures that led to the October 7 massacres, despite having made a name for herself as a right-wing commentator and Netanyahu loyalist.

In late October, Religious Zionism’s Michal Woldiger announced that she was resigning as deputy finance minister in order to divert her office’s budget and resources to assist in the war against Hamas, and to free up her own time to visit and aid those traumatized by the October 7 atrocies and strengthen “societal resilience.”

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