Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering firing Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked after the two left the Jewish Home to start a breakaway party, Hadashot news reported Saturday.
According to the report, Jewish Home MKs asked Netanyahu to remove Bennett and Shaked from their ministerial posts before the April elections, because the justice and education portfolios belong to the Jewish Home party under the current coalition agreement.
Netanyahu is mulling the request, the report said, but is concerned that firing Bennett and Shaked would turn the two into “martyrs.”
In addition, Hadashot said that Netanyahu may want to keep Bennett and Shaked as ministers and cabinet members to limit the scope of their campaign activities in the run up to the elections.
The Likud party declined to comment on the report.
Last week, Bennett and Shaked announced they were splitting from their Jewish Home party to form the New Right, a party they hope will attract a mixture of secular and religious voters.
The New Right party has a similar platform to the Jewish Home, which has been stagnating in opinion polls after failing to attract support from secular Israelis.
A Midgam and iPanel poll, conducted on behalf of the Meet the Press news show on Thursday and publicized on Saturday, showed Bennett leading Shaked in popularity to lead the new party. The poll found 33% of voters said Bennett should lead the New Right while 27% said it should be Shaked. Of the 507 respondents in the survey made up of a representative sample of the adult population, 40% said they had not decided who should lead the party.
Some polls have indicated The New Right will win about 8 seats in the elections, with Jewish Home struggling to win the 4 seats it would need to clear the Knesset threshold. In the outgoing Knesset, it held 8 seats.