Likud Party member of Knesset Amir Ohana was selected on Wednesday as the incoming government’s candidate for parliamentary speaker, with fellow party member Ofir Katz proposed as the next chairman of Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition in the legislature.

The Knesset speaker is a key position whose holder sets the government’s legislative agenda and controls which bills are brought to the plenum for votes. Ohana, once his appointment is approved by the full parliament, will effectively run the Knesset and also represent the body overseas, while filling in for President Isaac Herzog when he is unavailable.

Ohana became Israel’s first openly gay Cabinet minister in 2019, subsequently holding the justice and public security portfolios.

Also on Wednesday, Netanyahu tapped the Likud’s Yoav Galant, a former head of the Israel Defense Forces’s Southern Command, to become the country’s defense minister.

Galant, who previously served as housing and construction minister, was widely viewed as the leading candidate for the post. His Holocaust survivor mother, Fruma, sailed on the “SS Exodus” as a child. His father, Michael, fought the Nazis as a partisan in the forests of Ukraine and Belarus.

Netanyahu’s government is slated to be sworn in on Thursday.

JNS

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