United Right Demands Interim Ministries

united right
New Right MK Betzalel Smotrich, shown here arriving for a meeting last month with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

The Union of Right-Wing Parties repeated its demand to receive the education and justice portfolios in the wake of the dismissal of Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, on Sunday.

Bennett and Shaked continued in office after they failed to be elected to the Knesset in April at the head of their New Right party.

However, that came to an end on Sunday. “Bennett and Shaked can’t continue in a sensitive role in the [security] cabinet for half-a-year after they were not reelected by the public,” government sources were quoted as saying.

MK Ofir Sofer (United Right) asked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to give the education and justice portfolios to the United Right, since the ministers represented United Right’s Jewish Home Party when they entered the cabinet.

“What needs to be done now is to pass the portfolios to the United Right – to Rabbi Rafi Peretz and Member of Knesset Betzalel Smotrich, one of whom will hold the education portfolio and the other the justice portfolio,” Sofer told Arutz Sheva.

Likud Minister Yariv Levin, who has also been talked about as a future justice minister, said he is not interested in serving in the role on a temporary basis, until the September 17 elections.

Netanyahu will decide who will fill the posts within the next 48 hours, and that he “has no intention of holding either of the vacated portfolios himself,” a spokesperson said.

Bennett and Shaked issued a statement following their dismissals, saying:

“Everything we did was for the good of the State of Israel and its citizens. We will turn over in an ordered manner the ministries we headed to the ministers who will replace us.”

A suggestion that Shaked be brought in to head the United Right was vehemently rejected by Smotrich on Army Radio on Sunday.

“You left, you destroyed, you failed, and now because of your mistake, the country is going through dizziness because of you,” Smotrich said. “There is no reason in the world for you to be number one.”

Shaked and Bennett left Jewish Home (now a faction of United Right) to run on their own New Right ticket, leaving their former party in disarray. Their subsequent failure to make the electoral threshold by less than a percentage point was regarded as a heavy loss for the right-wing bloc, depriving PM Netanyahu of sufficient support to make a coalition.

Updated Sunday, June 2, 2019 at 2:14 pm added comment