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February 14, 2019 12:04 pm

Netanyahu Expected to Name New Israeli Foreign Minister on Sunday

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he delivers a statement at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, Dec. 19, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to announce the appointment of a new foreign minister on Sunday, according to media reports.

Netanyahu has served as his own foreign minister since 2015, with many believing he was leaving the position open to accommodate potential coalition partners from the left.

The Israeli leader also holds several other ministerial portfolios, including defense following Avigdor Liberman’s resignation in November, and there has been growing opposition, including from Netanyahu allies, to the concentration of so much power in the hands of the prime minister.

According to Hebrew news site Walla, Netanyahu’s decision to give up the foreign affairs portfolio was the result of a petition to the Supreme Court brought by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel (MQG) NGO.

MQG appealed to the Supreme Court in December, claiming that it was unacceptable for Netanyahu to serve as prime minister while also controlling the defense, health, immigrant absorption and foreign ministries.

In response, Netanyahu stated that he would appoint an absorption and foreign minister. Yoav Galant became absorption minister, but no foreign minister has been appointed until now. Given upcoming Knesset elections in April, the appointee will be largely a caretaker.

MQG commented on Netanyahu’s decision, saying, “We welcome the apparent appointment [of a new minister] that appears to have arrived only under the dangling sword of the legal procedure at the Supreme Court, and we hope it is put into practice.”

“We believe that it was inappropriate for the prime minister to arrive at a situation in which he holds so many important portfolios — among them the foreign and defense portfolios — at the same time. We hope this unacceptable norm … will not recur,” the group added.

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