Knesset confirms Netanyahu as defense minister

In a narrow vote, the Knesset approved Netanyahu’s permanent appointment as defense minister.  

By Jack Gold, World Israel News

The Knesset on Monday evening approved Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s permanent appointment as Minister of Defense.

Following a lengthy debate, 59 Knesset members voted in favor; 56 were against.

Minister of Education Naftali Bennett and Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home party, who abstained in a vote in the cabinet on the issue, voted in favor of his appointment at the Knesset’s plenum.

Throughout the debate that preceded the vote, numerous members of the Opposition criticized the appointment.

“Today the prime minister will also become the defense minister, and he is also the minister of health, the minister of absorption and the foreign minister – so that’s four portfolios.” declared MK Ayman Odeh of the Joint Arab list.

“To these we need to add Case 1000, Case 2000, Case 3000 and Case 4000, so that’s eight portfolios,” he said, referring to several corruption cases against Netanyahu. “That’s more than Louis XIV: ‘I am the state and the state is I.’ I hope this situation will not persist much longer.”

MK Tamar Zandberg of the extreme-left Meretz party said that “over the past two years, since we have had here a prime minister who is suspected of at least three bribery offenses, we have been repeatedly quoting Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that a prime minister up to his neck in investigations has no public or moral mandate to run the affairs of the state.”

MK Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) said, “In the eyes of the prime minister, the post of defense minister is just another political tool. As opposed to past prime ministers who have also held the defense portfolio, Netanyahu also serves as health minister, foreign minister and absorption minister. Theoretically, sir, you, as Prime Minister, by yourself, can have in your home, in the living room, a security cabinet.”

MK Yair Lapid, head of Yesh Atid, said that “before deciding whether or not Benjamin Netanyahu can serve as defense minister, let’s examine his first month on the job. He finished off our deterrence in Gaza; [Hamas Gaza chief] Yahya Sinwar is giving victory speeches in the streets. There’s a wave of terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria, the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time. In the North, he held press conferences… but the idea should be to calm things down, not to heat [them] up, and to make it clear the enemy is Hezbollah and not all of Lebanon.

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“Yesterday, half of his cabinet protested against his policies,” Lapid continued. “That’s after a month on the job. The State of Israel can’t afford to have him stay on as defense minister.”