Likud MK Miri Regev , who had just finished her term as culture and sport minister prior to being appointed transportation minister by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday, garnered criticism early Friday morning for firing Transportation Ministry director-general Keren Turner-Eyal, who was on maternity leave.
In addition to the dismissal of the director-general, Regev also fired the office's staff, according to a Ynet report. Turner-Eyal, who is currently on maternity leave, has worked in the office since 2016.
In a WhatsApp statement to Ynet, Turner-Eyal said that "the incoming Minister [Regev] called me and updated me that she was going to the office with a new director-general on Sunday."
Regev's decision was met with criticism from Israel's Left and feminist NGOs. "It is hard to talk about Miri Regev who dismissed a ministry's director-general on maternity leave," radical Feminist movement Kulan (All of Them) said in Twitter.
"It is discouraging as there is a small number of women in powerful positions, and when Miri Regev [disregards] the law and basic human decency, it is clear what would happen in a small business to a woman who is not a ministry's D-G. The law is clear, but human decency is what I mourn," the NGO said.
"It is sad that the minister's first step was dismissing a worker on maternity leave," Na'amat - Movement of Working Women & Volunteers head Hagit Pe'er said, according to Calcalist. "Not only is it anti-feminist behavior but it is simply illegal."
She continued, saying that "it seems that Minister Regev needs a quick course on labor laws and the rational behind them, and a parallel couse on gender issues. Na'amat will be happy to help her with that."
Regev herself responded to the criticism Friday morning, saying on Twitter that "it is known that every minister who arrives at his new ministry appoints a trusted director-general in order to promote his [or her] agenda."
She continued, saying that she "had a personal conversation with Keren Turner and told her about my intentions to appoint a new director-general as is generally accepted, so she would not hear that through the media."
Regev added that "before the conversation, I asked the civil service commissioner to protect all her rights, and so it will be. Turner did and does good and professional work in the transportation ministry, for which I am grateful."According to Ynet, the Civil Service Commissioner's Office responded to Regev's tweet, saying Turner's rights after her dismissal were not discussed in their conversation with the newly-appointed minister.
On Thursday, Netanyahu and Regev released a joint statement on announcing that Regev will serve as the next transportation minister, the first woman to do so, and after a year and a half, she will become foreign minister. This change will occur when Blue and White leader Benny Gantz replaces Netanyahu as prime minister.
Netanyahu lauded her for making history as the first woman to fill the position of transportation minister. He also said she had proven her abilities to “make reforms” and added that she will also serve on the judge's elections committee.
Regev thanked Netanyahu and said she is ready to face the challenges of public transportation in the country as well as the fight against traffic accidents. She vowed to “strengthen Israel’s position in the international arena” when given the role of foreign minister.