Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, with David Bitan at a Likud party meeting in Jerusalem, June 12, 2017. (JTA/Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, with David Bitan at a Likud party meeting in Jerusalem, June 12, 2017. (JTA/Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Netanyahu gives up all ministerial portfolios due to corruption charges

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed several cabinet ministers after being required to divest himself of all ministerial portfolios in the wake of corruption charges against him.

Netanyahu does not have to resign as prime minister, though questions remain as to whether he will be allowed to form a new government if he wins the mandate to do so in upcoming March 2 elections.

Netanyahu appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely of his Likud Party as Diaspora Affairs minister; David Bitan of Likud as Agriculture Minister; Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen as Construction Minister; and current Construction Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton of the Kulanu Party as Welfare Minister.

Last week he appointed Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman as Health Minister in a controversial move, since Litzman remains under investigation for allegedly blocking the extradition of an accused child abuser.

Bitan also has legal problems. Police in March recommended he be indicted on multiple corruption charges, including bribery, fraud and money laundering for crimes that took place from 2011 to 2017 during his term as Rishon Lezion deputy mayor and as a Knesset member.

Hotovely said Sunday that she would “work to enhance the ties between Israel and all Jewish communities and denominations of Judaism around the world.”

Marcy Oster
Marcy Oster

Israel-based JTA correspondent

JTA

Content distributed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news service.