ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 146

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Galit Distel Atbaryan, May Golan appointed ministers, swelling cabinet to 32

Atbaryan to head public diplomacy, Golan becomes minister in PM’s office; Yuli Edelstein to chair powerful Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee

Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan at a Federation of Local Authorities conference in Tel Aviv, December 8, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan at a Federation of Local Authorities conference in Tel Aviv, December 8, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made adjustments to his cabinet on Monday, appointing Likud’s Galit Distel Atbaryan and May Golan to new positions, and brining the total number of ministers in his cabinet to 32.

Distel Atbaryan, who started off as a minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, was named minister of public diplomacy, a position cleaved off from the Strategic Affairs Ministry. The Public Diplomacy Ministry will be charged with countering anti-Israel discourse and boycott campaigns.

Golan is taking over Distel Atbaryan’s position as a minister in the Prime Minister’s Office. According to Channel 13, Golan was disappointed at not being given a cabinet position when the government was formed last month. Netanyahu had earlier wanted to appoint her as deputy minister in the PMO, but there is a cap on two such positions in the office, and they were both already taken.

In another appointment, veteran Likud MK Yuli Edelstein was nominated as head of the influential Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Edelstein said he accepted the role “with great pride and great humility.”

Edelstein, a former minister and Knesset speaker, had sough to challenge Netanyahu for the leadership of Likud, claiming in 2021 that the party would lose an election with its veteran leader at the helm. Though he later withdrew the challenge, he slipped far down the Likud rankings in party primaries and was not given a seat in the current cabinet.

Likud MK May Golan visits MK Itamar Ben Gvir in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, February 14, 2022. (Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)

Separately, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana tapped longtime Israel Police official Moshe Edri to serve as director general of the Knesset. The director is responsible for the administrative order in the building, overseeing the work of the staff, and supervising the logistical and administrative systems of parliament, according to the Knesset website.

With the appointments of Distel Atbaryan and Golan, the cabinet now has 32 ministers, six of whom are women. It is the second-largest cabinet in Israel’s history, behind the 2020 unity government led by Netanyahu, which had 34 ministers. The entire Knesset numbers 120 lawmakers, though under the so-called Norwegian Law, ministers can resign their Knesset seats to make room for new MKs.

Four new lawmakers were sworn into the Knesset under the Norwegian Law on Monday.

Dan Illouz took up a seat for Likud vacated by Culture and Sports Minister Miki Zohar. Also for Likud, Hava Eti Atiya replaced Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman, and Ariel Kallner replaced Tourism Minister Haim Katz.

Yitzhak Pindrus of United Torah Judaism took over the seat of party leader Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf. All four of the new lawmakers have previously served as MKs for their respective parties.

The last government had nine women in a cabinet of 27.

Also Monday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant appointed former Likud lawmaker and minister Yuval Steinitz to be chairman of state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

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