Occupied Jerusalem: 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.