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Netanyahu neutralizes rivals with Cabinet appointments

In distributing ministerial portfolios, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is employing his well-worn strategy of eliminating the possibility of any Likud member having a chance to increase their popularity.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz attend a Likud party meeting at parliament in Jerusalem May 11, 2015. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun  - RTX1CG4C
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Senior Likud ministers Silvan Shalom, Gilad Erdan, Yuval Steinitz and Yisrael Katz heard various iterations of the following line in direct and indirect talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “I’m keeping the Foreign Ministry for myself. I’ll be expanding the government very soon and will have to give it away at that time. There is no reason to put someone in the position for such a short period.” 

Shalom, 57, had served previously as foreign minister. At 45, Erdan is the youngest member of the group. He is also the most popular and highly regarded Likud minister in the party and is regarded similarly among other parties as well. Even during the most difficult days of the last elections, he put everything on the line to defend the Netanyahu family in the media. Steinitz, 58, has become something of a joke on Israeli satirical TV shows because of his absolute loyalty to Netanyahu and Netanyahu's wife. Katz, who turns 60 this September, has been stuck in the Transportation Ministry for the past two terms. Each of these men thought that he was the ideal candidate for the position of foreign minister, but Netanyahu apparently never once considered giving that prestigious portfolio to any of them.

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