Rabbi Rafi Peretz

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday appointed two interim ministers for Israel’s transitional government.

Netanyahu named Rabbi Rafi Peretz, head of the Union of Right-Wing Parties, as education minister, replacing Naftali Bennett, whom he fired earlier this month. Bezalel Smotrich, who leads the National Union party, part of the union, was tapped as transportation minister to replace Yisrael Katz, who last week was named foreign minister, a portfolio that Netanyahu has held since 2015.

Smotrich, known as a Religious Zionist hardliner, also was named as a new member of the Security Cabinet, and Peretz was made an observer to the body.

Smotrich was named interim justice minister after the firing of Ayelet Shaked, a position that went to Netanyahu loyalist Amir Ohana. He likely will demand the position in the 22nd Knesset if Netanyahu and his Likud party win enough seats to form the new government after the September elections.


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