Netanyahu Taps Far-right Leaders as Education, Transportation Ministers

Both will also be members of the diplomatic-security cabinet, and Smotrich was given charge of the Israel Land Authority

Peretz (R) and Smotrich during a Union of Right-Wing Parties convention in Jerusalem, March 2019
Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Monday the chairman of the Union of Right-Wing Parties, Rafi Peretz, as education minister and the leader of far-right National Union party Bezalel Smotrich as transportation minister of the interim government.

Both will also be members of the diplomatic-security cabinet, and Smotrich was given charge of the Israel Land Authority.

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In an interview with Israeli Channel 13, Peretz said he is looking forward to being Education Minister for "all the children of Israel." He said that education does not equal grades, and that the next generation will be of "loyal sons who will serve in the army and do everything in the most moral way possible."

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After the announcement, Netanyahu tweeted: "The deep and strong partnership between Likud and the religious-Zionist movement and the Union of Right-wing Parties will continue during election campaigns and after it."

Earlier this month, Haaretz reported that according to sources in the religious-Zionist Habayit Hayehudi party, Peretz insisted on the education portfolio despite an agreement between him and Smotrich that the latter would receive the more senior ministry in government.

The sources also said Netanyahu prefers Perez for the education ministry.

Earlier on Monday, Smotrich tweeted he wasn't "eager to be appointed as minister in an interim government. If Netanyahu wants he'll appoint, if not we'll put all our time and effort in creating unity on the right and in best preparing for the election."