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Government axes 5 ministries, 4 of them set up last year

Water Resources, Cyber and National Digital Matters, Higher Education, Strategic Affairs, Community Empowerment and Advancement all to be absorbed into other offices

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Ministers in the newly sworn-in Israeli government pose for the traditional group photo at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. (Emmanuel Dunand / AFP)
Ministers in the newly sworn-in Israeli government pose for the traditional group photo at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. (Emmanuel Dunand / AFP)

The government on Monday abolished several ministries set up by the previous government, including one for water resources and another for advancing the community which were apparently created in order for the sake of politicians looking for cabinet seats.

The ministries that were axed were those of Water Resources; Cyber and National Digital Matters; Higher Education; Strategic Affairs; and Community Empowerment and Advancement.

The Higher Education Ministry will be absorbed by the Education Ministry at the request of Education Minister Yifat Sasha Bitton.

Digital Affairs will be taken over by Economics Ministry under Orna Barbivai, and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman will take responsibility for community advancement.

Water resources will be taken over by the Energy Ministry headed by Karine Elharrar.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and his ministry will take over strategic affairs, which in its latest iteration was primarily tasked with countering the boycott-Israel movement of pro-Palestinian groups.

Of the ministries, Strategic Affairs was the only one to predate the last government, having been created in 2006 by former prime minister Ehud Olmert in response to a coalition demand from Liberman.

Party leaders attempting to cobble together a coalition often dangle cabinet seats, which come with extra power and perks, as prizes for Knesset members who join them, sometimes creating positions for them when none exist.

The last government, a reluctant-power sharing coalition that was the result of three consecutive undecided elections, was widely derided as the most bloated in the country’s history, with 35 ministers and deputies. Among them was Ze’ev Elkin, who became a poster child for government inefficiency when he was appointed minister for water resources and higher education.

In the current government, Elkin, now a member of New Hope, is the housing minister and minister for Jerusalem Affairs.

The new government, confirmed last month, has 28 ministers, which is also relatively large.

In 2013, Lapid conditioned his entry into former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition on the cabinet being shrunk to 20 ministers and eight deputies.

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