Daily Israel Report

Dichter to Resign from Knesset, Replace Vilnai

In a surprise late night move, MK Avi Dichter (Kadima) agrees to resign from the Knesset and then be appointed Home Front Defense Minister.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/14/2012, 2:51 AM

MK Avi Dichter
MK Avi Dichter
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Despite previous reports suggesting that the former head of the Israeli National Security Council is a leading candidate for Home Front Defense Minister, it now appears that the position will be given to MK Avi Dichter (Kadima).

Reports Monday night indicated that, in a surprise late night move, Defense Minister Ehud Barak met Dichter and offered him the position. Dichter subsequently met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and accepted.

He will replace Matan Vilnai, who is leaving his position in order to become Israel's ambassador to China.

In order to become a minister in Netanyahu’s government, Dichter will have to resign from the Knesset and then be appointed as a minister who is not member of any party or Knesset faction. The reason for this, according to a Channel 2 News report, is that Dichter refuses to lead a move that will bring about a split in Kadima. He is expected to hand in his resignation to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday morning and his appointment will be brought for approval on Thursday.

Had Dichter wished to remain in Kadima and be appointed a minister, a split in the party would have had to take place and he would have needed to secure seven MKs from the party to join him. A recent attempt by former minister Tzachi Hanegbi to split Kadima failed.

Dichter, a former head of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), has always been in favor of Kadima joining Netanyahu’s coalition. When he announced that he would be running in the primaries for the party’s leadership, he said that if elected he will have Kadima join the coalition.

He eventually bowed out of the race and joined forces with MK Shaul Mofaz, allowing Mofaz to upset then-chairwoman Tzipi Livni in the primaries.

After Mofaz pulled Kadima out of Netanyahu’s coalition over disagreements about a new draft law, Dichter initiated a meeting between Kadima members and Likud Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who presented his outline of the alternative draft law.

Dichter is expected to be replaced in the Knesset by Ahmed Dabbah.