Israel’s 33rd government was supposed to be leaner than the previous one, and it ostensibly is, with only 22 ministers as opposed to the last government’s 30. But, according to new International Relations, Intelligence, and Strategic Threats Minister Yuval Steinitz, at least one ministry was created as a result of late-night coalition negotiations — his own.
Steinitz (Likud), who was finance minister in the last government, told Army Radio on Wednesday that his new position, which will see him taking over some areas previously under the aegis of the Foreign Ministry, including handling the Israel-US strategic dialogue apparatus, was “cobbled together” as a result of a competition between himself and former vice prime minister Silvan Shalom (Likud).
“I knew straight away with the election results that if the government was going to be formed with Yesh Atid and Jewish Home, Finance would not be in our hands,” Steinitz said, adding that he told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that if he couldn’t get the Foreign, Defense or Justice ministries then he wanted a position “responsible for strategy and intelligence… with expanded powers.”
Steinitz, a former philosophy professor and a veteran lawmaker, ended up with a triple portfolio, while Silvan Shalom, who has served in the past as both foreign minister and finance minister, is now in charge of the Energy, Water and Negev and Galilee Development ministries. Shalom was Negev and Galilee development minister in the last government.
During coalition negotiations, Netanyahu was under intense pressure to trim the number of total ministries, while at the same time give important positions to new coalition partners Yesh Atid and Jewish Home, which left fewer ministerial posts available to members of his own Likud-Yisrael Beytenu faction.
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