Tzipi Hotovely
Tzipi HotovelyCredit: Marc Israel Sellem

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday afternoon that he is appointing Deputy Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) as Diaspora Minister. Hotovely is the first Religous Zionist woman to be appointed as a minister.

Netanyahu also announced that Construction and Housing Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton (Likud) will be appointed as Minister of Welfare and Social Services and Deputy Minister Yitzhak Cohen (Shas) will be appointed as Housing and Construction Minister.

The appointment of MK David Bitan (Likud) as the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development was also announced. A Likud senior official said that Netanyahu had promised Bitan the position long before investigations began against him and the prime minister kept his word.

Police recommended in March that Bitan be indicted for corruption charges for suspected bribery while he was the Deputy Mayor of Rishon Lezion.

The Blue and White party attacked Netanyahu's decision to appoint Bitan as the Minister of Agriculture: ''A prime minister who has become a criminal on the run from justice is now appointing a bribery suspect to be the one responsible for food prices for all of us. The Netanyahu government has become a crime organization whose sole purpose is to ensure immunity for its leader."

The Movement for Quality Government in Israel also attacked Bitan's appointment, stating: "A prime minister accused of bribery appointing a minister suspected of bribery - that's what the Israeli government looks like. Shameful."

Yisrael Beyteinu chairman MK Avigdor Liberman attacked Netanyahu's decision to appoint MK Yitzhak Cohen of Shas to the position of Minister of Construction and Housing. "The appointment of MK Yitzhak Cohen to the position of Minister of Construction and Housing during this transition period is nothing less than political hijacking in order to establish facts on the ground," Liberman claimed.

"It's not enough that Shas holds the Interior Ministry that transfers budgets in favor of haredi cities at the expense of the periphery. Now the Ministry of Housing will transfer agricultural land from the regional councils to the haredi cities."