Miri Regev says she wants to be defense minister in next government

With PM said pushing to dissolve Knesset and call new elections, culture minister — a former IDF spokeswoman — hopes to become first woman to head defense establishment

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

Culture Minister Miri Regev arrives at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on December 31, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Culture Minister Miri Regev arrives at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on December 31, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

As the coalition appears teetering on the edge of collapse with many expecting new elections to be called within days, Culture Minister Miri Regev already has her eye on a promotion in the next government, saying Monday that if her Likud party remains in power she wants to be made defense minister.

“I am aiming to receive a more senior role in the next government,” Regev told Kol Berama radio station, “like defense minister.”

Regev said that “Likud will lead the next government, and I hope to play an important role.”

While Israel was one of the first countries in the world to appoint a female prime minister when Golda Meir became premier in 1969, Regev, if her hopes are fulfilled, would be the first woman in charge of the country’s traditionally male-dominated defense establishment.

Then-IDF spokesperson Miri Regev, June 24, 2005. (GPO)

Before entering the Knesset as a Likud MK in 2009, Regev served for over 25 years in the army, achieving the rank of brigadier general when she was appointed as the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson. She gained public recognition in that role during Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005 and the 2006 Lebanon War.

She was appointed as a minister in 2015 when she was given charge of the Culture and Sports Ministry and since then has frequently stirred controversy with attempts to put her stamp on Israel’s culture scene.

During a number of recent prime ministerial trips abroad, Regev was been appointed acting prime minister, tasked with calling and chairing cabinet meetings in the case of an emergency. While the appointment is largely symbolic, Regev said last year, during her first stint in the role, that the move was “an important statement for women and political figures in leadership roles.”

Her comments came as election talk has grown over the past week, with the coalition at loggerheads over a military exemption bill and speculation rife that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could seek a snap vote to secure his mandate ahead of a possible indictment in several corruption probes.

On Monday Regev, who has positioned herself as a close ally of Netanyahu, set off a flurry of speculation when she was caught on camera at the Knesset on Monday afternoon texting an assistant, “Cancel the hotel. Elections are on.”

Later that evening, Netanyahu called on his coalition partners to make a “supreme effort” to save the government from collapse, as a crisis over the military enlistment of ultra-Orthodox men threatened to bring on early elections.

“If there are elections, we will face them and we’ll win too. But we’re not there yet,” he said. “The hour is late, but it is not too late.”

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