Combative Likud meeting sees irate MKs let fly after not receiving government posts

Lawmakers accuse Netanyahu of doing whatever he wants, a day before swearing-in ceremony; one chides incoming PM: ‘Don’t interrupt me, let me speak!’

Likud leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu with fellow Likud MKs in the Knesset, on December 28, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Likud leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu with fellow Likud MKs in the Knesset, on December 28, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A Likud faction meeting turned combative on Wednesday as some disgruntled party members who did not receive their desired government appointments aired their grievances, 24 hours before the swearing-in of the new government.

Danny Danon, who failed in his pursuit of the Knesset speaker position, expressed anger over the decision to call the party faction meeting on the very last day before the launch of the government, Channel 12 said.

“It’s an audacity that the faction was not convened sooner. It is not acceptable to me that you did whatever you wanted with the agreements,” Danon was said to fume at Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and other top party officials.

Likud lawmakers had been heard grumbling in recent weeks that Netanyahu had given away too many senior cabinet roles to his intended coalition partners in negotiations, while even some important roles still in the hands of Likud had been gutted of various authorities.

Likud firebrand David Amsalem, who was informed by Netanyahu on Tuesday that he would receive neither of his desired positions, of Knesset speaker or justice minister, was quoted by Channel 12 as having yelled at Netanyahu: “Don’t interrupt me, let me speak,” saying the incoming prime minister and his top negotiator MK Yariv Levin “can’t do whatever you want.” Levin is set to receive the justice portfolio in the incoming government.

Wednesday’s Likud faction meeting also saw the approval of Amir Ohana’s appointment as Knesset speaker. As part of his agreement with Netanyahu, Ohana, who is openly gay, will be granted voting freedom on LGBT issues.

Likud MK Amir Ohana attends a Knesset committee meeting, December 13, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Ofir Katz was appointed coalition chair, Israel Katz foreign minister and Haim Katz tourism minister. As expected, Yoav Gallant, a retired general, was appointed defense minister.

Also on Wednesday, legislation was passed by the Knesset granting Otzma Yehudit party head Itamar Ben Gvir greater authority over police, including the power to direct general police policy and to outline “general principles for action.” The firebrand MK can also influence policy relating to investigations, after consulting with the police commissioner and hearing the attorney general’s opinion.

The law was insisted upon by Ben Gvir as a condition for joining Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, one of several laws quickly passed by parliament to satisfy far-reaching demands from the far-right and ultra-Orthodox parties that will partner with Netanyahu’s Likud in the new coalition.

Carrie Keller-Lynn contributed to this report. 

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