Bennett Lashes Back at Opposition in Knesset

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid, in the Knesset. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett responded on Monday to opposition criticism of the new state budget with a scathing comeback on the legacy of the Netanyahu government.

“The inheritance left to us was an Iran at the most advanced stage of its nuclear project, but we’ll deal with it because we know what to do,” said a furious Bennett in the Knesset plenum, where he was required to appear after 40 MKs signed a demand that he do so.

Bennett charged that because of the security situation he inherited, his government has been forced to pass an expanded defense budget.

At the session, Opposition Leader Binyamin Netanyahu repeated his charge that the new government’s “no surprises policy” with the U.S., assuring that Israel would not attack Iran without consulting Washington first, would endanger security. This, even though his government had a similar policy when he was prime minister, though he emphasized Israel’s right to act on its own if necessary.

“The information that is sent to America could be leaked to major media outlets and in this way our operations will be thwarted,” he said.

Netanyahu goes on to claim the government “turned us into some sort of protectorate with a duty to report. If we have no independence on this matter, we have no independence at all.”

On the budget, which had drawn criticism for raising taxes and measures that would hurt the most vulnerable sectors, Bennett struck back, saying:

“We did in 36 hours what you didn’t do in 36 months, we passed a budget,” something which was universally recognized as an urgent necessity for economic recovery.

Shas chairman Rabbi Aryeh Deri said he will oppose the proposed budget, which he warned would harm the weakest segments of Israeli society, while protecting the elites.

“Today Bennett, [Foreign Minister Yair] Lapid and [Finance Minister Avigdor] Liberman’s pleasure-boat government approved the budget,” he said. “Liberman walks around the middle of the night in the government corridors with a glass of white wine and crushes the weakest people in society. This government is of the strong versus the weak.”

United Torah Judaism MK Yaakov Asher derided Liberman on Radio 103 FM: “The finance minister promised not to raise taxes. If he were to institute a tax on vodka, I would have said, ‘This is something that takes courage,’”