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June 2, 2019 10:48 pm

Netanyahu Fires Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked seen after a statement during a press conference in Tel Aviv announcing a new political party on Dec. 29, 2018. Photo: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired two of his top cabinet ministers on Sunday in another twist to Israel’s recent political upheavals.

According to Israeli news website Mako, Netanyahu informed Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked that their services were no longer required, and told them the reason was that their New Right party had failed to pass the threshold for entrance to the Knesset in elections earlier this year and they had therefore not been elected by the public.

Bennett and Shaked originally entered the government as leaders of the now-defunct Jewish Home party, which they left to form the New Right party before the April elections. Jewish Home merged with two far-right parties to form the United Right bloc.

In a joint statement, Bennett and Shaked said, “We sincerely thank the Israeli public for the rare privilege we have had to serve as ministers of education and justice.”

They pledged to facilitate a smooth transfer of their ministries to their upcoming replacements. It is believed that these replacements will be from Netanyahu’s Likud party.

Earlier in the day, Bennett made a statement at the government’s weekly cabinet meeting, saying, “This is a time when more than ever we need unity and connection, not polarization, between religious and secular, between right and left. We are all one people.”

Opposition party Blue and White co-chairman Yair Lapid took a swipe at Netanyahu over the firings, saying, “Netanyahu fired Bennett and Shaked because: 1. He was afraid they would do a bad job? 2. He was afraid they would do a good job? 3. He doesn’t care about anything anymore. 4. All of the above.”

Netanyahu was seen as the winner of the April elections after the right-religious bloc won a majority of Knesset seats. However, he was unable to form a government after Yisrael Beiteinu party head Avigdor Lieberman refused to back down on a law intended to draft Haredi yeshiva students into the IDF. New elections have been called for September 17.

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