Members of Habayit Hayehudi, including a contender for chairmanship, MK Moti Yogev, asked Prime Minister Netanyahu last week to dismiss ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, after they had left their party to form the New Right party, Channel 2 news reported Saturday night.
Yogev’s claim is that the two were elected as representatives of Habayit Hayehudi, and must return their portfolio when they are no longer party members.
A Likud spokesman stated in response that “the Likud has not received any request from Habayit Hayehudi to dismiss Bennett and Shaked.”
Last week, when Minister Yoav Galant informed Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon about his retirement from the Kulanu party in order to join the Likud, he resigned from the Housing and Construction Ministry as well as from the Knesset. Netanyahu can certainly demand that Bennett and Shaked resign from his cabinet as well.
The problem is that removing Bennett and Shaked may turn them into martyrs. On the other hand, removing them from their ministries would deny them the asset of serving as members of the cabinet.
On Thursday, Channel 2 News revealed that Justice Minister Shaked had spoken with a senior Likud official four days before she and Bennett had announced their from Habayit Hayehudi and the establishment of the New Right party. The official told her that she could get a high spot on the Likud Knesset list. Shaked, who was not born yesterday, said that the Likud is her top priority, but noted that in her opinion Likud chairman Netanyahu would not allow her to shorten the cooling-off period after which she would be allowed to compete in the Likud primaries.
According to Shaked, she would be able to return to the Likud only after the Netanyahu era is over.
Shaked’s circle issued a response saying, “I did not ask to join the Likud, and every hint to the contrary is a total lie.”
Israel Hayom, newspaper established by billionaire Sheldon Adelson to support Netanyahu, published an article by its editor-in-chief Boaz Bismuth, which cited Ronald Reagan’s famous Eleventh Commandment, a phrase he used during his 1966 campaign for Governor of California. The Commandment goes: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”
The New Right party tweeted on Saturday night that “in view of many inquiries, we must repeat the obvious, as we have already said, the New Right party will of course recommend to the president only one candidate as the national camp’s prime minister, and that is Benjamin Netanyahu.”
The party’s announcement came after a wave of attacks initiated by senior Likud officials, who argued that Bennett would recommend Yair Lapid to the president as the most qualified candidate to become the next PM.
The Likud, including Netanyahu, have been reminding anyone who would listen that after the 2013 elections, the brothers in arms Lapid and Bennett acted together to squeeze out of Netanyahu ministerial positions for both.