Backtracking, Netanyahu to keep justice, education portfolios until next week

After firing ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, PM will hold off on appointing their successors, says he wants to consult with his Likud party and other political allies

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a Jerusalem Day celebration at Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, on June 2, 2019. (Aharon Krohn/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a Jerusalem Day celebration at Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, on June 2, 2019. (Aharon Krohn/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not appoint new justice and education ministers until next week, a spokesperson said Monday, a day after the premier fired Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett from their posts and said he would select their successors this week.

Citing Netanyahu’s desire to discuss the matter with people “in the coalition and within Likud in the coming days,” spokesperson Yonatan Urich told reporters the ministerial portfolios would not be given out before the beginning of next week.

On Sunday, Netanyahu fired Justice Minister Shaked and Education Minister  Bennett, from the rival New Right party, in a move that takes 48 hours to go into effect.

At the time, a spokeswoman said the new appointments will be decided on within two days, stressing that Netanyahu “has no intention of holding one of the vacated portfolios himself.”

But, starting Tuesday morning, Netanyahu will be acting education and justice minister during his consultation period. For the prime minister to hold the latter portfolio could be controversial as he faces corruption indictments, pending a hearing, in three cases against him.

Netanyahu is also defense, foreign, and health minister.

MK Bezalel Smotrich of the Union of Right-Wing Parties arrives at a Jerusalem Day event at Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem, June 2, 2019. (Aharon Krohn/Flash90)

MKs Rafi Peretz and Bezalel Smotrich from the Union of Right-Wing Parties have urged Netanyahu to appoint them as education and justice ministers, respectively, in place of Bennett and Shaked. The URWP was one of the parties that sought to form a coalition with Netanyahu after his Likud party won the most votes in the April elections.

On Sunday, Smotrich said Israel should adhere to religious Jewish law and asserted that the country should aspire to govern as “in the days of King David.” He doubled down on his position on Monday morning, telling Kan public radio that “the Jewish people is a special people that needs to live according to the Torah.”

The Knesset last Wednesday night voted to disband and called new elections for September 17, after Netanyahu failed to build a coalition due to an impasse between the secular Yisrael Beytenu party and ultra-Orthodox parties.

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