Bennett in New York: “I’ll Be Back”

By Hamodia Staff

YERUSHALAYIJM – When Naftali Bennett quit the premiership last year, leaving to Yair Lapid the futile task of trying to salvage the coalition, he left the door open for a political comeback. On Monday night, Bennett was knocking.

He told a UJA-Federation gathering in Manhattan, “I’ll be back,” citing comebacks by other prime ministers.

“In Israel, we can be recycled. It never ends. [Yitzchak] Rabin was prime minister from ’74 to ’77 and came back. Bibi was prime minister from ’96 to ’99 and he’s back,” he was quoted as saying in media reports.

Addressing the political crisis in Israel and the alienation that some Americans are reportedly feeling, Bennett sought to be reassuring. He criticized the High Court, which he said had “gradually usurped authority that it didn’t have,” but said that it needed only a “small little nudge” to address those concerns, not the far-reaching reforms being prepared by the government.

“I smell a compromise coming,” he said. 

“I urge you, don’t give up on Israel, even if we’re going through a midlife crisis,” Bennett said. “We will overcome this…

“When your family member goes through a crisis, you don’t give up on him. Quite the contrary, you embrace him, you help him through this period,” he said.

In comments about his role as a mediator in the Ukraine war during his premiership, Bennett was surprisingly positive about Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom he met in Moscow.

Saying that he said he found Putin to be “very reasonable,” telling him he would no longer demand regime change and demilitarization in Ukraine.

As for Ukraine’s President Vlodomyr Zelensky, he told him Ukraine would “no longer want to join NATO, which was the very reason for the war.”

But negotiations fell apart, said Bennett, because of Ukrainian objections. “I want to be cautious here,” he said. “The message [from Zelensky] was ‘we don’t want to run yet to ceasefire for various reasons…. Putin was an aggressor and he needs to pay the price.’” 

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