Who’s who in Netanyahu’s 2015 government

A rundown of the distribution of portfolios in the new cabinet

File: The 20th Knesset votes, May 13, 2015. (Knesset Spokesperson's Office)
File: The 20th Knesset votes, May 13, 2015. (Knesset Spokesperson's Office)

Presented below is the makeup of Israel’s 34th government after it was approved by the Knesset on May 14, 2015 and amended on May 25, 2015.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) is beginning his third consecutive term (fourth overall) as the country’s leader, a position he has held since 2009. Netanyahu also currently holds the Foreign Affairs and Communications portfolios.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) will continue to lead Israel’s defense establishment as he has done since 2013. Ya’alon is a former military chief of staff, who left the service in 2005 and joined politics three years later.

Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon (Photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Kulanu party leader Moshe Kahlon (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) is a former Likud member who took a break from politics in 2012 before forming his own party in the recent election, running on a socio-economic platform. During his time as communications minister Kahlon enacted a much-celebrated reform in the cellular market, which led to drastic price cuts for consumers. He has promised to combat skyrocketing housing prices and the high cost of living in the new government.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) is a former high-tech entrepreneur who served as Netanyahu’s chief of staff in 2006 before quitting the job and winning the leadership of Jewish Home in 2012. He served as economy minister in the previous government. He also held the portfolios of Religious Affairs and Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs.

Ayelet Shaked, March 11, 2013. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Ayelet Shaked, March 11, 2013 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) is a first-time minister who has been a member of Knesset since 2013. A secular woman from Tel Aviv, she stands out from the party’s largely religious base.

Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) has been in the Knesset since 1998. He has served as transportation minister since 2009, but has now been boosted to deal with security issues as well, including membership in the security cabinet.

Silvan Shalom, March 12, 2014. (Flash 90)
Silvan Shalom, March 12, 2014 (photo credit: Flash90)

Interior Minister Silvan Shalom (Likud) will also serve as vice prime minister. Shalom was minister for the development of the Negev and the Galilee in the previous government. He has been a member of Knesset for 23 years and served as finance minister and foreign minister in the governments of Ariel Sharon.

Public Security Minister and Minister for Public Diplomacy and Minister for Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan (Likud) is one of the ruling party’s most popular politicians, coming in first in the last primaries, but initially opted to stay out of the government because he was not satisfied by Netanyahu’s offer. A week and half after the coalition was formed, the former communications and home front defense minister renegotiated with the prime minister, winning among other things a significant budget increase for the police, and joined the government on March 25.

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) will be the de facto health minister (party members do not assume top ministerial positions on ideological-religious grounds), a position he held between 2009 and 2013. Litzman also chaired the Knesset’s Finance Committee in the past.

Yoav Galant speaks to Channel 2, January 18, 2015. (screen capture)
Yoav Galant speaks to Channel 2, January 18, 2015. (screen capture: Channel 2)

Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu) ranks second behind Kahlon in Kulanu’s roster. He was a top military commander, serving as head of the IDF Southern Command between 2005-2010. He came a hair’s breadth from being appointed chief of staff in 2010, before a scandal involving improper construction permits at his home in the rural community of Amikam cost him the job.

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev (Likud) is a first-time minister who has seen a meteoric rise through the ranks of Likud, from the 27th spot during her first stint in the Knesset in 2009 to the No. 5 spot in the most recent elections. Regev served as IDF spokesperson between 2005-2008 (including during the disengagement from the Gaza Strip), and was previously the chief military censor.

Aryeh Deri, Jerusalem, December 30, 2014 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Aryeh Deri, Jerusalem, December 30, 2014 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Economy Minister and Minister for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee Aryeh Deri (Shas) served as interior minister from 1988-1993. In 1999 he was convicted of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust and served two years in prison. Before the elections, he won a drawn-out battle for control of the ultra-Orthodox party from former leader Eli Yishai.

Energy and Infrastructures Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) has been in the Knesset since 1999. He has served as finance minister and, in the most recent government, as intelligence minister.

Ze'ev Elkin. (Flash 90)
Ze’ev Elkin (photo credit: Flash90)

Absorption Minister and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) immigrated from Ukraine in 1990 and was first elected to the Knesset in 2006. He has served as deputy foreign minister and coalition chairman, as well as chairman of the powerful Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Science and Technology Minister Danny Danon (Likud) has been involved in politics since 1996 and entered the Knesset in 2009. In the previous government, he served as deputy defense minister. He was fired by Netanyahu during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip, due to his outspoken criticism of the government’s handling of the war while it was still underway.

Uri Ariel (Flash90)
Uri Ariel (photo credit: Flash90)

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) is the leader of the Tekumah faction which, along with the National Religious Party, makes up Jewish Home. In the previous government, he served as construction and housing minister and was a strong proponent of settlement construction and expansion. In the new government, part of the funding and planning of settlement construction has been handed to Ariel.

Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabai (Kulanu) is not a member of the Knesset. He helped Kahlon form the Kulanu party and coordinate its campaign. He served in the past as the CEO of the Bezeq telecommunications company.

Gila Gamliel. (Flash90)
Gila Gamliel (photo credit: Flash90)

Minister of Gender Equality, Minorities and Senior Citizens Gila Gamliel (Likud) will head a mouthful of a ministry, a combination of what was once the Senior Citizens’ Affairs Ministry and the post of Minorities Minister. Gamliel has served in the Knesset since 2003, though this is her first stint as minister. She previously served as deputy agriculture minister and as deputy Knesset speaker.

Religious Affairs Minister David Azoulay (Shas) has been a member of Knesset since 1996, but is a first-time minister. He served in the past as deputy interior minister.

Welfare Minister Haim Katz (Likud) is also the head of the Israel Aerospace Industries Workers Union. He has served in the Knesset on and off since 1999.

Yariv Levin, July 24, 2012 (Uri Lenz/Flash90)
Yariv Levin, July 24, 2012 (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) has been in the Knesset since 2009. He has served as coalition chairman and as head of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Minister without portfolio Ofir Akunis (Likud), a longtime ally of the prime minister and former Netanyahu spokesman, was expected to be given a “ministerial post” in the Communications Ministry, making him a minister in the ministry, but leaving the post of communications minister free for any future expansion of the coalition. But Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has made clear that there is no such position as a minister in a given ministry who is not that ministry’s minister or deputy minister. Akunis was left as the government’s second minister without portfolio.

Tzipi Hotovely in the Knesset. (Abir Sultan/Flash 90)
Tzipi Hotovely in the Knesset (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash90)

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) deserves special mention in the list of ministers because she will be the de facto foreign minister until Netanyahu manages to hand the top diplomatic post to a new coalition partner. Netanyahu is technically the serving foreign minister, but it is Hotovely who will manage the ministry’s day-to-day staff work and make any major decisions affecting Israel’s diplomatic corps.

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