Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn allegedly boycotted Sunday’s cabinet meeting to protest an agreement reached between his Blue and White party and Likud on two senior posts he had not been told about, and which he failed to fill a key position in his own ministry. , Jewish media reported.
It was the latest indication that tensions in the national unity government are also testing the fortunes of Blue and White, which is led by Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
Nissenkorn was supposed to join Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel in the session outside the meeting.
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The cabinet voted on Sunday to approve the appointment of Yeheli Rothenburg as the new general accountant in the Likud-run Ministry of Finance and of Hod Betzer as general manager in the office of the alternate prime minister.
Gantz holds the post of alternate prime minister under a unity government agreement. He is scheduled to exchange positions with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in November 2021, though few observers believe the government will last that long.
An agreement on coverage of the two posts was reportedly struck by Gantz and Netanyahu in sneaky talks kept secret by top blue and white lawmakers, including Nissenkorn, whose ministry remains without an appointed director.
Nissenkorn was cheered by opposition leader MK Yair Lapid, who tweeted that boycotting the government was a “values-based” move.
The appointments agreed between Netanyahu and Gantz were “shameful,” Lapid said.
“Instead of worrying about education, health and the economy, Ganz arranges fabricated jobs in non-existent offices for his friends,” he wrote, apparently referring to the alternate prime minister position, which was created specifically for Gantz.
A television report on Saturday said Gantz had hidden from two senior ministers of his Blue and White party an agreement reached with Netanyahu on high-level appointments that failed to secure the key party’s request for an appointment to the Ministry of Justice. Earlier in the week Blue and White had denied that such an agreement had been reached.
According to Channel 12 news, Nissenkorn and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, Gantz’s senior partner in Blue and White, only learned of the deal when the cabinet meeting’s agenda was published.
The deal will not include the approval of a new director general at the Ministry of Justice, a central blue and white request that has long been blocked by Netanyahu, limping the ministry’s business.
Nissenkorn announced his choice for chief executive months ago, but the Prime Minister’s Office has so far refused to take the matter to a cabinet vote, with Netanyahu issuing a de facto freeze on all senior official appointments in ministries. controlled by Blue and White. – in particular the Ministry of Justice. Gantz responded by refusing to allow a government vote on appointments in Likud-led ministries such as health and finance.
The report said Blue and White officials were angry and disappointed with the deal, believing Gantz had succumbed to Netanyahu on the matter. He did not cite a source.
It has also been reported that lawmakers are concerned that the deal could be part of a broader agreement taking shape that would see Gantz agree to further delay the passage of a state budget, giving Netanyahu the opportunity to create a crisis on the budget in the future and trigger elections at a politically more convenient time for him.
According to Jewish media, communications minister Yoaz Hendel, who is part of Gantz’s white-and-blue-led coalition bloc, will also forgo attendance at Sunday’s cabinet meeting to protest the nomination deal. Hendel told other party members that the meeting’s agenda is “irrelevant,” Channel 12 reported.
As part of the coalition deal, Likud and Blue and White have decided to postpone any senior nominations they might clash over. However, in early October, Gantz said it was time to put an end to the “chaos” in the government and take up high-level police posts that have long been manned by temporary tampons.
The country is without a permanent state attorney for nearly a year and without a permanent police commissioner for nearly two.
On Monday, Attorney General Mandelblit told the High Court of Justice that he believes the state must explain why it has so far failed to appoint a permanent director general to the Ministry of Justice. He said that with no concrete justification given for the failure to carry out the trial, he “believes there is no choice” other than to sue state representatives to answer.
Responding to Monday’s letter from Mandelblit, Blue and White said Gantz had instructed Nissenkorn “to speed up the process of appointing a state attorney and bring him to the government for approval as soon as possible.”
Gantz also asked Likud Minister of Public Security Amir Ohana to immediately appoint a police commissioner.
Gantz is said to be under pressure from within his party to withdraw from the national unity government amid frequent disputes between Likud and Blue and White that have hindered progress in state affairs. Gantz has reportedly admitted to closing confidants he doesn’t believe Netanyahu will ever give up power, and some party lawmakers are said to threaten to separate and form their opposition Knesset faction.
The government has to approve a state budget by December 23, otherwise elections will automatically trigger. Critics believe Netanyahu is planning an ongoing dispute with Blue and White over the budget that has so far prevented it from being approved despite an extended deadline, as he would prefer to hold the election in light of recent favorable polls. If elections were to be called, it would be the fourth within two years.