update desk

Israel’s new government assumes control of ministries

“Now it is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work,” says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The new Israeli government, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, poses for a group photo at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, Dec. 29, 2022. Photo by Yonatan SIndel/Flash90.
The new Israeli government, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, poses for a group photo at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, Dec. 29, 2022. Photo by Yonatan SIndel/Flash90.

Members of Israel’s new government on Sunday assumed control over their various ministries following numerous handover ceremonies in Jerusalem.

The ministers were officially sworn in during a Knesset session on Thursday.

Notable examples included former IDF Maj. Gen. (res.) Yoav Galant (Likud), who took over the Defense Ministry from Benny Gantz, and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir (Otzma Yehudit), who took the reins from Omer Barlev.

“I take upon myself the role of defense minister out of a longstanding commitment to Israel’s security and a deep understanding of the importance of the duties,” Galant said during the ceremony.

“We will fight terror without compromise,” he added, and vowed to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Earlier in the day, Ben-Gvir held his first official meeting with Israel Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai, who briefed the new minister on recent developments. It followed the widely expected departure from the Public Security Ministry of its director general, Tomer Lotan, who after meeting with Ben-Gvir “agreed on the termination of his position” due to ideological differences.

Newly minted Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionism) held a meeting with his immediate predecessor Avigdor Liberman, and vowed to work on behalf of every Israeli citizen.

“I’m not sure that all of our steps will be popular, but hopefully they will prove to be correct over time,” said Smotrich, while reiterating that he is committed to upholding free market principles.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) held a tete-a-tete with his predecessor Gideon Sa’ar, although no official handover ceremony took place. Levin has been tasked with implementing the coalition’s judicial reform, which includes a stated goal to legislate an “override clause” that would diminish the Supreme Court’s ability to strike down laws passed by the Knesset.

Levin was also slated to meet with Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, amid reports that the new government is seeking to split her existing role into two separate positions.

Tourism Minister Haim Katz promised to channel resources to promote tourism in previously neglected regions.

“We will invest in areas that may not have received sufficient support to date. For example, our local Tuscany in Judea and Samaria,” Katz said, adding: “We will work to improve infrastructure and increase the supply of accommodation options. Every Israeli family should be able to enjoy the beauty of our country and find a place to stay that suits their personal budget.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu already held his first Cabinet meeting on Thursday, saying he was “excited” by the “great trust” that the people of Israel has given his government.

He reiterated his four main goals: blocking Iran; restoring security and governance; addressing the cost of living and housing problem; and expanding the “circle of peace.”

He called his coalition consisting of his Likud Party, the Religious Zionism Party, Otzma Yehudit, Noam, Shas and United Torah Judaism a “united government” with a “unified vision and goal.”

“We have already brought to Israel the ‘Golden Age’—the best years in its history. Now we will take Israel to new heights and we will do so as a responsible and dedicated government that will fulfill its term,” Netanyahu said.

“It is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work,” the leader of the Jewish state added.

Netanyahu on Sunday held his first working meeting with Mossad chief David Barnea.

The prime minister was updated on the full range of the agency’s operational and intelligence matters in general, and on the Iranian issue in particular.

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