Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi / Flash 90
MK Yom Tov Kalfon, head of the Constitution Committee leads a meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on March 15, 2022.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is moving some of his people around, hoping to prevent another defection from the ranks, according to Channel 12 journalist Amit Segal.

Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana informed Bennett on Friday of his decision to resign from his ministerial post in order to return to the Knesset and “help strengthen the coalition,” Segal wrote.

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The resignation took effect immediately, and Kahana is to begin his tenure as an MK starting Sunday (May 15).

On Friday, Bennett informed MK Yom Tov Kalfon that he was leaving his position in the Knesset, despite an attempt by the MK to convince the prime minister he has no reason to question his loyalty. On Friday, Bennett’s advisor quit, as did a spokesperson.

“To the best of my knowledge, they did not necessarily suspect [Kalfon] was close to deserting, but they want to stabilize their crumbling faction,” Channel 13 reporter Lior Kenan wrote in a tweet.

Kalfon entered the Knesset due to the Norwegian Law. Under the Norwegian law , an MK can optionally quit the Knesset to become a government minister, allowing the next in the party line to enter and replace the minister in the Knesset. But once a minister quits, he returns to the Knesset, kicking out the last person in. That former minister cannot become a minister in the same government again, without a special Knesset vote.

Members of Bennett’s Yamina party denied a report that Kalfon was fired due to agreements made with Islamic Ra’am party head Mansour Abbas – a member of the coalition – and the Ashura (Islamic Religious) Council that rules his party, according to Arutz-7 journalist Hezki Baruch.

Kalfon had ascended the Temple Mount, a move the Ashura Council perceived as a slap in the face, Baruch wrote in his tweet.

Kahane will be appointed Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs. Bennett may attempt to hold a Knesset vote to reinstate him as a minister, but it seems unlikely that he will have the majority needed.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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