Israel's 35th government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been sworn in after more than 500 days of transitional government and three inconclusive Knesset elections. 73 MKs voted in favor and 36 against. The Likud's Yariv Levin was elected as the new Knesset Speaker.
In a departure from tradition, the government was sworn in without the presence of guests due to the coronavirus crisis. Under the rotations agreement Benny Gantz will become prime minister on November 17, 2022.
Netanyahu has defended the bloated size of the government by saying that the increased number of ministers and ministries was cheaper than having to hold new elections. He said, "New elections would have cost NIS 2 billion while the cost of a broader government is NIS 85 million."
So far 34 ministers have been named with Netanyahu already naming 19 ministers including Minister of Finance Yisrael Katz, Minister of Transport Miri Regev, Minister of Health Yuli Edelstein, Minister of Public Security Ami Ohana and Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz. But there is no place for former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat who was promised the Ministry of Finance portfolio during the election campaign.
Gantz, who will serve as Minister of Defense is to name 18 ministers including Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabi Ashkenazi, Minister of Justice Avi Nissenkorn and Minister of Education Yoav Gallant. Aryeh Deri will serve as Minister of Interior, Yaakov Litzman as Minister of Construction and Housing, and Amir Peretz as Minister of Economy and Industry.
The new government is meant to have 36 ministers.
Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid, who will serve as Leader of the Opposition, said, " "Today, this building has lost the trust of the Israeli public. After all the empty talk of an ’emergency government,’ the government being formed today is the most wasteful in the history of the State. 52 offices (36 ministers and 16 deputy ministers). There are fewer than 50 coronavirus patients on ventilators in Israel. We could a minister by every bed."
He added, "In real life a person with an indictment against them cannot be a teacher or minister's driver of undergo an IDF officer's course. You are swearing allegiance to a man about to go on trial."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on May 17, 2020
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