JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired two prominent ministers Sunday, June 2, ahead of general elections set for September, the second time the country will go to the polls this year, an official said.
An official from Netanyahu’s office confirmed on condition of anonymity that Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked had been fired, without providing further details.
Both are right-wing rivals to Netanyahu and had broken off from his Likud party years earlier.
Their New Right party failed to win enough votes in April 9 elections to clear the threshold to join parliament.
It is not clear if they will run again in the polls set for September 17.
The pair issued a statement saying they were being replaced and thanking the Israeli public, but did not provide details.
Ministers remain in their posts immediately after Israeli elections, until the formation of the next administration.
Netanyahu failed to build a coalition after the April polls and opted instead for parliament to dissolve itself and approve new elections.
That prevented Israeli President Reuven Rivlin from selecting someone else to form a government.
Netanyahu has frequently clashed with Bennett, but it was unclear why he chose to dismiss him and Shaked now.
Both Shaked and Bennett also served in Netanyahu’s security cabinet, and the Jerusalem Post quoted sources close to the prime minister saying their service should not continue after they were rejected by voters.
The sackings could also allow Netanyahu to use the vacated ministries for pre-election bargaining. – Rappler.com