MIDEAST ISRAEL ELECTIONS

Likud member David Bitan (center) attends the first election committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on Dec. 18, 2019. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday appointed several Knesset members to ministerial posts after having resigned from his own ministerial posts following a petition to the Supreme Court.

Netanyahu named Likud Knesset member David Bitan agriculture minister, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) as Diaspora affairs minister, Likud MK Yifat Shasha-Biton labor, welfare and social services minister, and Shas MK Yitzhak Cohen construction and housing minister.

Bitan’s appointment is controversial as he is the subject of a bribery investigation. If indicted, Bitan will have to step down, and Netanyahu will have to appoint another minister.

The Movement for Quality Government—an Israeli nonprofit—launched a petition demanding that Netanyahu vacate his ministerial posts, resign as prime minister and appoint replacements following Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s decision in November to indict the prime minister for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three corruption inquiries. JN

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