Cabinet Reshuffle Ignites Ire in Justice Ministry

YERUSHALAYIM -

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly reversed his decision to postpone appointing an interim justice minister after encountering heated opposition from within the ministry.

As of Monday night, Netanyahu was expected to designate an acting justice minister on Tuesday, rather than serving himself in the post until he had more time to consult with Likud officials.

Earlier in the day, Netanyahu’s decision to postpone appointing replacements for Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked gave rise to yet another entanglement with the legal system.

For if Netanyahu were to take over the justice ministry until a new minister is chosen, probably sometime next week, it would mean that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who plans to indict him on corruption charges, would be placed under his direct orders.

Law enforcement officials were reportedly outraged at the prospect.

“Netanyahu cannot serve as acting justice minister for even one day,” an official told Channel 13, and said that Mandelblit might have to intervene and insist on someone else filling the post in the interim government.

Justice ministry officials were said to be debating whether Netanyahu could serve under the title of acting minister for a few days, but without any of the powers that the position carries.

The interim appointments were initially slated for Tuesday, and a spokesperson for the PM said that he would not be taking over the ministries himself.

“The handing out of the ministries has been pushed off to the beginning of next week, since the Prime Minister is interested in discussing with other officials in the coalition and in the Likud about the issue over the next few days,” the Likud said.

MKs Rabbi Rafi Peretz and Bezalel Smotrich from the Union of Right-Wing Parties have been openly seeking the two ministries, and apparently would accept them even on a temporary basis. However, it appeared that officials in the Likud wanted to discuss other possibilities first.

Likud MK Micki Zohar told Arutz Sheva on Monday evening that “these portfolios should remain with the Likud only. We cannot give them to any other list or faction. This is what we promised our voters – the justice and education portfolios need to stay in Likud.”

It was not immediately clear whether the education ministry appointment would also be on Tuesday.