Netanyahu mulls firing transportation minister over ‘Trump-like’ tweets

Netanyahu may fire Smotrich after only a month and a half on the job. 

By David Isaac, World Israel News 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering firing Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich after the latter attacked him on Twitter, Israel media report.

Smotrich was only recently appointed to the post, having served  a month-and-a-half.

He leads the National Union party, a religious-Zionist party, which is running in the September elections as part of a larger bloc, the United Right.

On Sunday, Smotrich blasted Netanyahu, whom he blamed for the refusal of Israeli authorities to allow Jews to go up to the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av, the memorial day when Jews mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples. However, that decision was reversed and a record 1,729 Jews visited the holy site – up 20% from last year.

Smotrich tweeted, “I call on the Prime Minister @netanyahu to convene an urgent meeting and decide on the opening of the Temple Mount to the Jews in the coming hours. Mr. Prime Minister, if you do not have the courage to make this decision alone, come and let us take the responsibility. National dignity and a firm stance on terror are the ABCs of our security approach.”

The Temple Mount was opened to Jewish visitors later in the morning. Smotrich did thank the prime minister but also appeared to take credit for applying pressure.

“A right decision that shows that public and political pressure is doing its job. Better late than never. Congratulate the PM who responds to the demand and the Israeli police who provide protection.”

Later on Sunday, Smotrich blasted Netanyahu over a court ruling in the city of Afula, which banned a concert for ultra-Orthodox Jews because it provided for separate seating for men and women. The court ruled that separate seating contradicts the principle of equality.

Smotrich tweeted: “Dumb judicial system… A fundamentalist progressive idiocy.

“And because we are devout followers, we will not satisfy ourselves by mocking the responsibility of the jurists: A weak prime minister with 100 percent of this trolling happening on his shift. Zero leadership. Zero sovereignty. Dina Zilber is the real prime minister.”

Zilber is the deputy attorney general of Israel and is considered left-wing by the right-wing public. Last November, then-Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked requested that Zilber be banned from representing the government at Knesset and other high-level meetings due to having “crossed all lines.”

Shaked, who leads the United Right, backed Smotrich over his tweets amid the criticism that followed, saying that his tweets in principle were correct. But she did question his style.

He’s “a bit like Trump,” Shaked said to Kan radio. “His style is inappropriate, but he is absolutely right on substance.”