Israel's Netanyahu appoints far-right Bennett as defence minister

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed the head of a far-right political party as defence minister of his caretaker government, a spokesman for the premier's right-wing Likud party said on Friday. Naftali Bennett, who heads the New Right party, will take the defence portfolio from Netanyahu, who has simultaneously served as premier and defence minister for nearly a year. 'The appointment will be brought to the government for approval at an upcoming government meeting,' the Likud spokesman said in a statement.

Reuters November 09, 2019 00:10:58 IST
Israel's Netanyahu appoints far-right Bennett as defence minister

Israels Netanyahu appoints farright Bennett as defence minister

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed the head of a far-right political party as defence minister of his caretaker government, a spokesman for the premier's right-wing Likud party said on Friday.

Naftali Bennett, who heads the New Right party, will take the defence portfolio from Netanyahu, who has simultaneously served as premier and defence minister for nearly a year.

"The appointment will be brought to the government for approval at an upcoming government meeting," the Likud spokesman said in a statement.

Israeli politics is deadlocked after two inconclusive elections this year. Former military chief Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White party emerged neck and neck with Netanyahu following a September vote, and both leaders have struggled to put together a ruling coalition.

Gantz, who was asked by Israel's president to forge a coalition after Netanyahu failed to do so, has less than two weeks left to form a government.

If he fails, the country could be headed towards an unprecedented third election although a smaller party might be given a chance before that.

Netanyahu has led a caretaker government throughout the political turmoil.

Bennett's appointment appeared to be an attempt by Netanyahu to stymie Gantz's coalition negotiations, which include discussions with right-wing parties.

"Appointing a 'temporary placeholder' to the position of Defence Minister is unworthy of the most sensitive establishment in the state," Blue and White said in a statement.

Bennett previously served in Netanyahu's cabinet as education minister. A former settler leader, he advocates tough action against Palestinian militants in Gaza and unusual tactics towards Israel's arch-foe Iran and its proxy Hezbollah.

Netanyahu took over the defence portfolio following the resignation of then-chief Avigdor Lieberman, who in stepping down in November 2018 helped plunge the country towards snap elections in April.

Netanyahu and Bennett also agreed to form a parliamentary alliance, the Likud spokesman said, adding that Bennett agreed another person would be appointed defence chief if a unity government or narrow right-wing coalition is formed.

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.