Rumors were rife over the weekend that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intended to fire Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked from his Cabinet.
Netanyahu has long had a strained relationship with both of the outspoken ministers. And with their surprise departure from the Jewish Home party, they are technically no longer members of the ruling coalition.
Bennett and Shaked last week announced the formation of a new party, The New Right, that is expected to take votes away from both Jewish Home and Netanyahu's Likud in the upcoming general election.
But, while Bennett and Shaked look to score as many Knesset seats as possible, they fully intend to be part of Netanyahu's next government, having expressed confidence that Likud will again emerge as the largest parliamentary faction.
This makes things complicated for Netanyahu.
While he'd surely like to jettison both Bennett and Shaked from his government, Netanyahu is wary of making political "martyrs" of them so close to an election campaign. Also, Netanyahu knows that he'll need the cooperation of all right-wing parties if he's to successfully form a new government following the election.
PHOTO: Bennet and Shaked in the Knesset (Yonatan SindelFlash90)