Netanyahu, Suspect in Three Corruption Cases, Is Now Israel's Justice Minister

The premier fired Ayelet Shaked, who failed to pass the electoral threshold with her Hayamin Hehadash party leader, Naftali Bennett

Netanyahu at the Knesset, June 3, 2019.
Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is awaiting a pre-indictment hearing in three corruption cases, now serves as Israel's justice minister after he fired Ayelet Shaked from the post on Sunday.

Netanyahu decided to fire Shaked and former Education Minister Naftali Bennett, after the two failed to pass the electoral threshold in Israel's April 9 election with their party, Hayamin Hehadash. The two were also fired from their post in the security cabinet.

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Netanyahu assumed the education and justice portfolios on Tuesday after the transfer of the ministries went into effect, 48 hours following his announcement. The premier has yet announced a permanent replacement for the two. The prime minister also heads the Health Ministry, as well as the Defense Minstry, since Avigdor Lieberman's departure from the post in November last year.

Netanyahu, who currently heads an interim government, failed to form a ruling coalition following the April 9 election. The Knesset voted last week to dissolve itself, sending Israel to an unprecedented second election in one year, which is slated to take place on September 17.

Israeli law does not prohibit an outgoing prime minister from appointing or dismissing ministers before an election nor does it require Knesset approval if the appointee is already a Knesset member.

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In February, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit decided to indict Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in the three cases, pending a hearing. In Case 4000, Netanyahu is accused of providing regulatory concessions to Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of the Bezeq telecommunications company, in exchange for favorable coverage from Bezeq’s news website, Walla.

In Case 2000, Netanyahu is accused of a similar deal with the publisher of the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Arnon Mozes. In Case 1000, the prime minister is alleged to have accepted gifts from wealthy businessmen in return for political favors