Sense of Relief on the Right Over Bennett Decision

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu attends a Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset, in his first appearance as defense minister, on Monday. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Politicians on the right expressed a sense of relief at the announcement by Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked that they would not resign their posts, thereby breaking up the coalition, as many had expected. Jewish Home MK Moti Yogev said that he congratulated Bennett “on his brave decision to continue as members of the government and lead the country in the Cabinet and the government at this time, given all the challenges we face. The best thing to do is to unite and lead the country in a responsible manner.”

Deputy Defense Minister Tzippy Hotovely (Likud) said that that the two had done the right thing. “At this time the national interest is such that we need to keep the government intact, with the realization that we have many challenges and many opportunities.” MK Yoav Kisch (Likud) said that “breaking up the government because of an attack by Hamas would just be a reward for Hamas. A coalition of just 61 members, coupled with an invigorated opposition, is a real challenge, especially if we wish to keep it going for a year until scheduled elections next November. It will be a very challenging year. I am not sure we will be able to keep it going, however.”

Government Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said that with the decision, Bennett had “saved Jewish Home from total dissolution, which has been the fate of parties that broke up right-wing governments.”

MKs in the opposition were not as happy with the announcement. Former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that after seeing Bennett back away from a challenge, “now we all can understand how Israel has lost its deterrence.” Liberman’s “shirking of responsibility” by resigning was cited several times by both Bennett and Shaked in their remarks.

Zionist Camp MK Shelly Yechimovich said that “it is a shame that the duo of Shaked and Bennett will continue to keep this government going. Shaked’s term as justice minister has been one of violence against the rule of law and the justice system. And with all the criticism I have of Netanyahu, we can breathe more easily that he did not abandon Israel’s security to Bennett, with his fantasizing of right wing that would lead to war and a high cost in the blood of our children.”

In a social media message, Netanyahu’s office said that “the elections will take place at the time they are supposed to. We will meet at the polls in November 2019.”