Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz have agreed to form a more exclusive security cabinet that will be tasked with addressing sensitive issues such as annexation in the West Bank and Iran’s nuclear program, Israeli television reported Saturday.
The decision was made earlier this week after the two party chiefs decided the current security cabinet, which has 16 ministers and four observers, was too unwieldy to effectively debate issues of critical importance, according to Channel 13 news.
The smaller security cabinet will likely consist of eight senior ministers, with Netanyahu and Gantz’s respective political blocs receiving equal representation.
An even smaller body of Netanyahu, Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi will also be formed to deal with extending sovereignty over parts of the West Bank, the network said, citing four unnamed ministers and senior officials.
Any decisions made by these smaller forums will still require approval of the 16-member security cabinet, but the creation of the new bodies will likely lead to the full cabinet meeting less frequently, with members expected to back the positions of their party bosses.
Several governments in Israel’s history have also had smaller cabinets, often known in Hebrew as a “mitbahon,” or kitchenette, owning to prime minister Golda Meir’s hosting of such forums at her home.
Some of Netanyahu’s past governments have featured these smaller cabinets, including the coalition he formed after his return to the premiership in 2009.
According to the television report, a meeting on Syria was held earlier this week that only included some members of the security cabinet.
The report didn’t say which ministers took part in the meeting.
The new government, which with 35 ministers is the largest in Israel’s history, has also approved the formation of a special coronavirus committee. The coalition deal between Netanyahu and Gantz calls for the creation of a “reconciliation” cabinet, though it has not yet been formed.