Bennett Appears Set to Take Over Education Ministry Until Elections

Habayit Hayehudi also looks due to take control of Social Affairs Ministry; no one has taken over treasury or Justice Ministry.

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Minister Naftali Bennett
Minister Naftali BennettCredit: Emil Salman
Yarden Skop
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Habayit Hayehudi appears set to take over the education and social affairs portfolios, both of which were left open after three Yesh Atid ministers resigned from the cabinet following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ousting of their party chairman earlier this month, government sources said.

Under the plan, Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett, who also serves as economy minister, would take over the education portfolio that was previously held by Yesh Atid's Shay Piron.

Education Ministry sources confirmed that Bennett would be appointed as minister, but it appears that the incumbent deputy minister, Avi Wortzman, would be unofficially in charge. The Knesset voted this month to allow Wortzman to stay on as deputy minister.

The arrangement would remain in place until a new cabinet takes office after the March 17 election.

The Social Affairs Ministry, previously run by Yesh Atid's Meir Cohen, is looking like it will go to Habayit Hayehudi's Uri Orbach, who also serves as the minister of pensioner affairs.

The Prime Minister's Office has been discussing the handover with Habayit Hayehudi since last week, but neither party has issued a statement on the record.

On December 2, Netanyahu accused Finance Minister Yair Lapid, the Yesh Atid leader, and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, the head of Hatnuah (which has since merged with the Labor Party), of conspiring against him. He fired them from the cabinet and called for early elections, after which the Yesh Atid ministers resigned from the cabinet in protest.

No minister has been appointed to replace Livni as justice minister or Lapid as finance minister, though a 31-year-old lawyer named Nimrod Sapir was appointed Finance Ministry chief of staff last week.

On Tuesday, Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi, who already serves as deputy finance minister, was confirmed as the deputy health minister after Yesh Atid's Yael German quit the post.

As prime minister, Netanyahu becomes the default minister of every portfolio that does not have a minister, though in practice the deputy minister often runs the show if there is no one in the minister's seat.

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