Netanyahu fires government ministers Lapid, Livni

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

The dismissals came Tuesday evening amid rifts in the government coalition that signaled the dissolution of the government and early elections.

Netanyahu instructed Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mendelblit to issue letters of dismissal to Lapid, who heads the centrist Yesh Atid party, and Livni, the leader of Hatnua. Both parties are in the coalition — Yesh Atid has the most seats.

“In recent weeks, Ministers Lapid and Livni attacked harshly the government I head,” Netanyahu said in a statement released the same evening by the Prime Minister’s Office. “I will no longer tolerate an opposition within the government. I will not tolerate ministers who that from within the government attack government policies and the person who leads the government.”

Netanyahu called a news conference for Tuesday night, during which it is expected that he will announce the firings and the new elections.

Four other ministers from Yesh Atid will not be fired from their ministerial positions, Channel 2 reported.

Netanyahu, who heads the Likud party, and Lapid in a meeting on Monday night failed to repair the coalition rift, leading both sides to say that the early vote will be called.

Following the meeting, Lapid said that Netanyahu presented “impossible” demands and was responsible for new elections.

The elections would likely be held in March or April. Elections are scheduled for November 2017.

A bill disbanding the Knesset could come to a vote as early as Wednesday.