Transportation Minister Betzalel Smotrich apologized Monday evening for the insults he hurled at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, in remarks he delivered at a launch of the election campaign for the Yamina party (formerly the “United Right” party).
Among the insults he threw were tweets calling Netanyahu “weak” and saying he showed “zero leadership.” Smotrich was reportedly warned at a meeting with the prime minister late Monday afternoon that an apology was due if he wanted to keep his position in the cabinet — and that there would be no second chances.
Earlier in the day, several Likud ministers slammed Smotrich for his remarks. Likud Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev called him an “overgrown boy” who had “crossed red lines” and who was “behaving like a child kicking his parents.”
In his “apology” Smotrich said he wrote the remarks due to his angst over the Nazareth District Court ruling that banned separate seating at an event specifically programmed for Orthodox families by the Afula municipality. “From this real pain things were said in a manner that should not have been said and which were inappropriate to say, certainly not in a relationship between a prime minister and a minister in his government, and this I regret,” he said.
He added, however, that “when we need to criticize [Netanyahu] we will criticize [him] and no one, but no one no matter what the threat, will be able to silence that criticism.”