Netanyahu to Smotrich: Apologize or be fired

Likud official says Prime Minister scolded Transportation Minister and made clear that another attack would not be acceptable.

Hezki Baruch,

Netanyahu and Smotrich
Netanyahu and Smotrich

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu summoned Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich for a meeting on Monday to reprimand him and made clear that if he did not publicly apologize for his attacks on the Prime Minister, he would be immediately fired from the government, a Likud official said.

According to the official, the Prime Minister made clear to Smotrich that "there will be no further warning."

Smotrich on Sunday posted two tweets that angered Netanyahu and his associates.

The first was a criticism of Netanyahu for closing the Temple Mount to Jewish worshipers on Tisha B’Av. Netanyahu later opened the site for Jews.

Smotrich later lambasted Netanyahu and his government for failing to intervene after the Nazareth District Court barred a haredi concert in Afula from having gender-separate seating.

Members of the United Right party were unfazed by Netanyahu’s threat to dismiss Smotrich. Senior officials in the party noted that "Netanyahu's threats to fire Smotrich are proof that he wants to establish a government with Gantz."

"Netanyahu's derogatory treatment of religious Zionism is a regular thing. He always 'uses and then throws away.' The fact that he dares to talk about dismissing Smotrich proves that Netanyahu wishes to establish a government with the left. He never even imagined firing Kahlon or Liberman who constantly attacked him,” added the officials.

Smotrich did apologize on Monday evening for his criticism of Netanyahu.

Speaking at the launching of the Yemina party's election campaign, he said, "When we have to be polite we will be and when we need to be sharp we will be as well. We have a heart and we are attentive to the people. When we speak from the heart and from pain it sounds like this."

Regarding Sunday's criticism, Smotrich said, "The things that were written were out of great pain. The court's decision scorned Judaism and anyone who believes in its values. Out of pain, difficult things were said that should not be said between a minister and the Prime Minister and for that I am sorry."