Michael Oren named deputy minister in charge of public diplomacy
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Michael Oren named deputy minister in charge of public diplomacy

Former ambassador to the US to work out of Prime Minister's Office; Kahlon adds economy portfolio in reshuffle

MK Michael Oren at a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting in the Knesset, November 19, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
MK Michael Oren at a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting in the Knesset, November 19, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Former ambassador to the US and Kulanu party MK Michael Oren was appointed deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and head of public diplomacy on Monday.

The appointment came as the Knesset vote to approve a cabinet reshuffle that saw the Likud and Kulanu parties swap the environmental protection and economy ministries.

Oren was appointed ambassador to Washington by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2009, a post he held until 2013. A year later he joined the ranks of the newly formed Kulanu party.

Oren’s exact responsibilities remain unclear, but it appeared as though his function in public diplomacy will help support Netanyahu, who continues to serve as foreign minister, as well as communications and regional affairs minister.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who leads Kulanu, will also take on the economy portfolio, while the Likud’s Jerusalem Minister Ze’ev Elkin will receive the Environmental Protection Ministry.

Matters relating to employment were pared from the Economy Ministry and transferred to the Welfare Ministry under Likud minister Haim Katz.

The Economy Ministry was held by Netanyahu since Shas leader Aryeh Deri resigned from the position in November 2015. Deri later took up the Interior Ministry in January 2016.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon seen during a faction meeting on July 11, 2016. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon seen during a faction meeting on July 11, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Kahlon had been holding the Environmental Protection Ministry since May when the previous minister, Kulanu party member Avi Gabbay, resigned in protest of the appointment of Avigdor Liberman as defense minister in a coalition-building maneuver that brought his Yisrael Beytenu party into the government.

Previous defense minister Moshe Ya’alon resigned from politics in protest of the development, even though he was said to have been offered the Foreign Ministry. In that coalition shake-up, Elkin lost the Absorption Ministry to Yisrael Beytenu MK Sofa Landver.

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