Former Advisor Says Bennett Caved in to Blackmail

By Shmuel Smith

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leaves after announcing his decision not to run in the next election, Wednesday. (REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

YERUSHALAYIM — A former senior advisor to outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Thursday that she resigned last month after she saw that he was giving in to political blackmail from coalition members, including from within his own Yamina party.

Shimrit Meir, who reportedly wielded great influence on Bennett in diplomatic matters, told Ynet that Bennett “gave in to blackmail” by the Islamist Ra’am party when it froze its coalition membership over the government’s handling of tensions at Har Habayis.

“Everyone was waiting for the Shura Council that night,” she said, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood group that guides Ra’am policy.

“Yair Lapid sent [his chief-of-staff] Naama Schultz to Kafr Qassim with an open check. I told Bennett, you must stop this. This government will be painted with the colors of surrender to the Arabs. Blackmail and surrender — and we were still in the midst of a terror wave.”

Meir claimed that notwithstanding Bennett’s claims of coalition members striving for unity, “the political management was a failure from day one. Had my area of responsibility been managed like the political one, the Syrians would have already been on the fences [of the Israel border].”

“Everything started to go totally downhill” when Yamina MK Idit Silman quit the coalition and other members of Bennett’s party started to “blackmail” the premier, making various demands in return for agreeing to stay on.

In the end, she decided to resign because “I understood he wasn’t listening [to me]. He doesn’t want to hear. And I understood there was no sense to the madness.”

Meir dismissed allegations that she was responsible for Bennett’s shift away from the right wing, and that she was behind his use of the term “West Bank” rather than “Yehuda and Shomron” as a sign of ideological drift.

“Netanyahu said ‘West Bank’ a million times,” she said. “I don’t remember who wrote it, but I approved it, absentmindedly.”

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