JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday he was relinquishing the role of foreign minister and handing it to a right-wing rival from within his Likud party, Israel Katz.

The move comes ahead of April 9 elections and follows court challenges arguing Netanyahu — who is also health and defence minister — has taken on too many governmental portfolios.

A Likud spokesman said Netanyahu intended to appoint Katz as acting foreign minister without providing further details.

Katz is currently transportation and intelligence minister and it was unclear whether he would give those roles up.

He called the appointment a “moving moment”.

Katz holds right-wing views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has said conditions are not in place now for a two-state solution.

In 2017, he advocated a plan that critics said would amount to de facto annexation of a number of Jewish settlements surrounding Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank. The proposal was shelved.

He has spoken of ideas such as building an island off the Gaza Strip to provide the blockaded Palestinian enclave with infrastructure including electricity and clean water.

Katz also promotes a plan for a railway linking Gulf states to the Mediterranean via Israel as part of a bid to normalise relations with Arab countries that currently do not have formal ties with the Jewish state.

Netanyahu’s choice of Katz was seen by a number of analysts as part of political manoeuvring ahead of the April 9 polls.

Katz, 63, is a senior Likud member and wields influence within the party.

He has spoken of his ambition to be prime minister, but has no current plans to challenge Netanyahu.

The foreign minister portfolio is viewed as more prestigious and high-profile than Katz’s current roles.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2019

Opinion

Populism and Pakistan
Updated 14 Jun 2021

Populism and Pakistan

The country’s politics is not immune to being shaped by regional and global populisms in a myriad of ways.
Domestic workers
14 Jun 2021

Domestic workers

A bill to protect domestic workers is awaiting Senate approval.
FATF compliance
13 Jun 2021

FATF compliance

Pakistan has made serious efforts to address the deficiencies in its CFT/AML regime because of FATF pressure.

Editorial

Power shortages
Updated 14 Jun 2021

Power shortages

It is high time that governance and structural reforms were introduced in the energy sector.
14 Jun 2021

Suicide in Thar

THARPARKAR is an appropriate case study for examining the factors that lead some people to the desperate, final act...
14 Jun 2021

Water woes

THIS past week saw a discussion on a water management system that, if properly implemented, should go some way...
Covid strategy
Updated 13 Jun 2021

Covid strategy

It is critical for govt to demonstrate to the public how badly health, business and education have suffered during the pandemic.
13 Jun 2021

Women in Balochistan

THE Balochistan government seems to be taking steps to improve women’s integration into society and the workforce...
13 Jun 2021

Deprived of cricket

THE federal cabinet has disallowed PTV to enter into an agreement with an Indian company for broadcast rights to...