Could a Religous Woman Be Next Foreign Minister?

The High Court ruled that a Health Minister needed to be appointed within 60 days, and that is likely to apply to the Foreign Ministry too.

Yaakov Levi ,

MK Hotovely
MK Hotovely
Knesset Channel

The High Court recently ruled that the government needed to appoint a Health Minister within sixty days – other than the current official Health Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu – but the court did not relate to the other posts Netanyahu currently holds. Netanyahu is also Minister for Regional Development, as well as Foreign Minister. Although Sunday's ruling did not discuss these offices, it's reasonable to assume that the court will order that these ministerial posts also be appointed to someone other than Netanyahu.

Although there is no shortage of candidates for the posts, Netanyahu has not appointed anyone from his coalition to them, preferring to hold the posts themselves – as a “placeholder,” with the Deputy Minister of each ministry doing the actual day to day work. Netanyahu is believed to be holding the posts in the event that either the Zionist Union or Yisrael Beytenu will join his government, in which event Netanyahu will appoint members of those parties to the posts.

That doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon, so it's likely that, at least for now, the deputies who have been doing the work at those ministries will be “bumped up” to ministers. In the case of Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, that could mean a major coup – promotion from her Deputy Ministerial post to full-time Foreign Minister.

Commentators on Sunday said that it seemed unlikely that Netanyahu would appoint such a young Knesset member – as well as an observant woman – to what is seen as the third most powerful position in the government, after Prime Minister and Defense Minister. With that, the commentators said, there was still a possibility that Netanyahu would place her in the position, making it clear to her that she would be Foreign Minister only temporarily, and that she would need to work very closely with the Prime Minister's people on coordinating moves.

Making history

Known for her right-wing views, Hotovely has been credited with helping to bring votes in to the Likud during the last, crucial days of the 2013 election campaign from Jewish Home and Shas, propelling Netanyahu to another term as Prime Minister. Hotovely helped drive home the claim among religious Zionist voters that without a solid showing, Netanyahu would be unlikely to be chosen to form the government, and right-wing parties would find themselves out in the cold.

As a result, Netanyahu garnered tens of thousands of last-minute votes, with Likud winning 30 seats, substantially more than the 23 to 25 the last polls before the March 17th elections showed the party getting.

If current Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman agrees to take on the job of Health Minister, he too will be making history. The reason Litzman has not yet been “bumped up” to the higher office is that his United Torah Jewry party, for ideological reasons, rejects the idea of serving in ministerial posts, even if its members are part of the government. Litzman is set to meet this week with the rabbis who set policy for the party before making a final decision on the matter.

In the case of the Regional Development Ministry, history will be made if Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara is promoted to the head office – making him the first Druze minister in Israel's history.