Ministers approve Smotrich, Peretz for transport, education portfolios



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On Sunday, ministers approved by telephone the nomination of the two main lawmakers of the Union of Right-wing Parties as ministers in the interim cabinet, placing Rafi Peretz in charge of the Ministry of Education and giving Bezalel Smotrich the transport license.

Smotrich was also appointed a member of the high-level security cabinet, while Peretz was granted observer status.

The blue-and-white leader Benny Gantz asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop the appointment of Smotrich's security bureau, a radiant who recently asked that Israel be governed by Jewish religious law as in biblical times and said it works for God, not the prime minister. .

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"This is safety negligence in exchange for legal immunity, "Gantz accused. "The security situation in the region is deteriorating, and we are a short decision away from the fighting that we have not seen in the Middle East since the Gulf War."

Blue and white party leader Benny Gantz at a faction meeting in the Knesset on June 12, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

Smotrich said he will press to restore legislation that automatically grants parliamentary immunity to Knesset members in an attempt to protect Netanyahu from criminal charges.

The Union of Right-wing Parties, a merger of the right-wing Jewish party, National Union, and far-right national religious parties Otzma Yehudit, won five of the Knesset's 120 seats in the April elections.

Mr Smotrich said his party would join Netanyahu's coalition on the condition that he receive justice. But Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government and decided to dissolve parliament, with new elections scheduled for September 17.

Earlier this month, he fired Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked from their posts in a cabinet overhaul before the September elections.

The URWP launched an aggressive campaign for both posts, saying that Smotrich's background in the law made him a natural fit for the previous job, while Peretz's decades of work in the field of education made him fit for his last job.

But after Smotrich's controversial claims that Israel was governed by Jewish law, Netanyahu called Likud's supporter, Amir Ohana, to court, irritating the URWP. Reports in the Hebrew media said that Netanyahu did not want to give Smotrich the portfolio of justice, or his second choice, the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, because of his hard-line visions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) seen with MK Amir Ohana at a Likud party meeting in the Knesset on January 11, 2016. (Miriam Alster / Flash90)

By naming Ohana's justice minister – and stating that the position would not be interim – Netanyahu seemed to indicate to the URWP that only one of the two binders required by the party would be available after the next election in September if Likud won. .

Following Ohana's installation at the Ministry of Justice, Peretz and Smotrich discussed who was most deserving of the Ministry of Education, but quickly abandoned the discussion and promised unity.

Smotrich has been pressing a number of right-wing factions to unite and compete for a single ticket to increase the number of seats they can win and better boost nationalist agendas such as the annexation of the West Bank.

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