Netanyahu may name Likud hawk as deputy foreign minister

Zeev Elkin, a settler with a far-right wing political agenda, would run ministry until Avigdor Liberman concludes legal battles

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

Yisrael Beytenu Avigdor Liberman (left) and Likud MK Zeev Elkin on February 13, 2103. (photo credit: Flash90)
Yisrael Beytenu Avigdor Liberman (left) and Likud MK Zeev Elkin on February 13, 2103. (photo credit: Flash90)

Likud MK Zeev Elkin will reportedly be appointed deputy foreign minister and will fill in for Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman until the latter’s legal battles are resolved.

An unnamed political source told Army Radio that Elkin was on the shortlist to run the Foreign Ministry in Liberman’s official absence, and work as Liberman’s deputy should he be cleared of charges of fraud and breach of trust.

Elkin, a Likud hawk and settler living in the Etzion Bloc south of Jerusalem, served as the coalition chairman under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the last government. He was born in the former Soviet Union and moved to Israel in the early 1990s, and currently resides in a settler outpost near Bethlehem, which is home to approximately 80 families.

Elkin is considered a far-right wing politician whose voting record opposes freedom of expression and human rights more than any other MK, according to a Hebrew University study.

As of Thursday evening, a coalition agreement that seemed set for completion remained unsigned by the Likud-Beytenu, Jewish Home and Yesh Atid parties, after a Jewish Home representative bailed on a meeting with Likud negotiators set for earlier in the day. The delay revolved around Netanyahu’s refusal to grant Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, heads of the Jewish Home and Yesh Atid parties, the symbolic title of deputy prime minister.

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