In February, during the elections campaign, Netanyahu declared to the media while standing next to Barkat that he would not appoint a minister for Jerusalem affairs and that he would deal with the ministry’s responsibilities himself.
Netanyahu worked to find a compromise between his promise to Barkat and Elkin’s request until the late hours of the night Monday, with Likud officials saying the prime minister only promised not to give the portfolio to one of his coalition partners, specifically to Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett who asked to keep it after holding it in the previous government.
According to the Likud, Barkat was summoned to a meeting with Netanyahu, who included the mayor in the move and gave the portfolio to Elkin only after the three reached understandings on how Elkin would manage the ministry, particularly with regards to disputed issues, which will be resolved by the prime minister.
Barkat, however, presented a different story. “The decision to re-open the Jerusalem Affairs Ministry was made against my opinion and contradicts the prime minister’s commitment and the government decision that was approved on Jerusalem Day, according to which the Prime Minister’s Office will be in charge of the development and promotion of the city in cooperation with the mayor and municipality,” he said.