Netanyahu taps Likud ally Amsalem as new communications minister
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Netanyahu taps Likud ally Amsalem as new communications minister

David Amsalem, one of the PM’s most vocal defenders against corruption charges, calls the nomination a ‘great privilege’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks with coalition chairman David Amsalem during a Likud party faction meeting at the Knesset on November 19, 2018. (Miriam Alster/ Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks with coalition chairman David Amsalem during a Likud party faction meeting at the Knesset on November 19, 2018. (Miriam Alster/ Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday that he is appointing Likud loyalist David Amsalem as communications minister.

Amsalem, who serves as coalition chairman, has been one of Netanyahu’s fiercest defenders in the Knesset, as prosecutors prepare to charge the prime minister in a series of corruption cases.

The Communications Ministry opened up after Ayoub Kara, the first minister from the Druze minority in Israel’s history, resigned, following his failure to score a realistic spot on Likud’s electoral list to return to the Knesset.

Amsalem thanked Netanyahu for the appointment, writing on Twitter it was a “great privilege.”

Amsalem, a veteran Likud activist, entered the Knesset following the 2015 elections and has since emerged as one of the premier’s most vocal backers in the ruling party.

Likud MK David Amsalem chairs an Interior Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset on November 21, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

His nomination comes after a series of other recent ministerial appointments Netanyahu has made to his transitional government, including tapping Likud ally Amir Ohana as justice minister.

Some of the recent appointees could lose their new posts after elections in September, which were called after Netanyahu failed to form a ruling coalition following elections in April.

Netanyahu previously held the communications portfolio, but gave it up in 2017 amid investigations into his allegedly improper ties with major media outlets.

One of the cases Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has recommend Netanyahu be charged in involves suspicions that the prime minister instructed a Likud aide he had appointed as directer-general of the communications ministry to grant regulatory favors to the Bezeq-owned Walla news site.

In exchange, Bezeq majority shareholder Shaul Elovitch allegedly ensured Netanyahu’s family received flattering coverage at Walla.

Netanyahu faces charges of breach of trust and fraud in a trio of cases, pending a hearing, as well as bribery in the Bezeq case. He denies any wrongdoing.

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