In a dramatic announcement Monday morning, Education Minister Naftali Bennett reneged on a promise to pull his Jewish Home party out of the government and force new elections if he is not made defense minister, keeping the coalition alive with a razor-thin majority.
Despite heaping withering criticism on the government’s defense policies, Bennett said he will back Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has now also taken on the position of defense minister, in an effort to improve Israel’s “deep security crisis.”
Speaking at a press conference at the Knesset, Bennett said he had decided to “stand by the prime minister’s side,” and not act on his ultimatum to leave the government.
Citing what he described as a series of failures, Bennett said that “the ship of Israel’s security has sailed in the wrong direction.”
“Israel has stopped winning” since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, he complained, speaking alongside his party number two, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. “I’ve seen it. I’ve seen the confusion, the chaos, the lack of determination, the lack of spirit.”
Jewish Home leader said he believed that Netanyahu would be able to “change direction” with him by his side.
Yet, despite the criticism, th“We think that there is no answer to terror, to rockets and mortars, but there is an answer — we can get back to winning,” he said.
The announcement came after Netanyahu urged his partners on Sunday night to stay the course in the current government because Israel is in “one of our most complex periods in terms of security.”
Touting his military experience in the Sayeret Matkal elite operations unit and his “years of having ordered many military operations” as prime minister, Netanyahu said that he “knows when to act and what to do” in moments of crisis.
Bennett said that “if the prime minister is true to his words, and I want to believe that he will be, then we will stand by his side.”
According to Bennett, the Jewish Home had succeeded in preventing a slew of “misguided security decisions” in the past, such as the release of further terrorists after more than 1,000 were freed as part of a 2011 deal to secure the release of Israeli solider Gilad Shalit.
“We have proved ourselves through actions. We can change the direction,” he said.
Immediately before Bennett’s announcement, Netanyahu addressed the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs committee, saying that Israel was “ready for all security challenges.”
Called to the committee last week following a much-maligned ceasefire deal reached with Hamas after a two-day rocket barrage from the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu was set to address committee members in a closed-door session but took the opportunity to make brief public comments first.
Committee chair Avi Dichter said it was the first time the the high-level Knesset body would hear a briefing from the prime minister, defense minister and foreign minister “at the same time” — three positions all now held by Netanyahu, who took up the defense portfolio after Avigdor Liberman resigned the post in protest of the ceasefire.
The prime minister opened his public comments by repeating the key sentiments from his Sunday night speech calling on coalition members not to bring down the government.
“As I said yesterday, we are still in a military campaign. During this sensitive security time, it is irresponsible to bring down the government,” he said. “Even if people try, we will continue to work for Israel’s security.”
The Kulanu party’s Knesset faction chair, MK Roy Folkman, said elections were likely regardless of Bennett’s announcement.
“The coalition hasn’t been functioning properly for several weeks. We will go to elections even if Bennett and Ayelet Shaked don’t resign,” he told Army Radio Monday morning.
He called Netanyahu’s Sunday evening speech denouncing those who threatened to resign “the beginning of the election campaign.”
The political crisis began Wednesday with the resignation of Liberman over his criticism of the government’s handling of the violence emanating from Gaza. The withdrawal of Liberman’s five-seat Yisrael Beytenu faction reduced the governing coalition to the slimmest 61-seat majority.
Immediately after the resignation, Bennett demanded the defense portfolio in Liberman’s stead, warning that without it he would withdraw his own eight-seat faction and ensure the toppling of the coalition and new elections.
On Sunday night, Netanyahu delivered a stinging critique of both party leaders. “We are in the middle of a military campaign, and you don’t abandon a campaign to play politics,” Netanyahu said. “The security of the country is above politics and personal considerations.”
Jewish Home spokespeople were unimpressed by Netanyahu’s speech, carried live on prime-time national televised news at 8 p.m.
“This is a government that calls itself right-wing but acts left,” the party said in a statement responding to the prime minister’s comments. “If Bennett is not given the job of rehabilitating Israel’s security, we must go to elections immediately. The public is tired of voting right but getting left.”
Bennett admitted on Monday that his about-face would likely “cost me a political price,” but, he added, “it doesn’t matter, it’s better that we can help the prime minister lead us to victory.”
At the same time, the Trump administration is readying further possible sanctions on Venezuela, the official said.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro attends a military exercise in Maracaibo. (photo credit: MIRAFLORES PALACE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
WASHINGTON, Feb 8 – The United States is holding direct communications with members of Venezuela’s military urging them to abandon leader Nicolas Maduro and is also preparing new sanctions aimed at increasing pressure on him, a senior White House official said.
The Shalva Band following their final performance on “Rising Star.” Photo: Screenshot.
The Shalva Band has removed itself from the race to represent Israel in this year’s Eurovision competition because some of its members observed Shabbat and would not be able to partake in mandatory rehearsals, The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.
The group, made up of eight musicians who have special needs, was one of four finalists in the “Rising Star” singing contest — the winner of which will represent Israel in Eurovision, set to be held in Tel Aviv in May.
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As Birthright Israel reaches its 700,000th participant, certain voices in America have done their best to slander the organization and force it to make drastic changes. Having staffed multiple Birthright trips as a madrich (youth leader), I have had the amazing opportunity to pass on some of the love for Israel that helped change my life.
Local police in Manchester’s Whitefield neighborhood declared the vandalism a criminal act rather than antisemitic.
Protesters hold placards and flags during a demonstration, organised by the British Board of Jewish Deputies for those who oppose anti-Semitism, in Parliament Square in London, Britain, March 26, 2018.. (photo credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)
The Philips Park Jewish cemetery in Manchester, England, was vandalized on Saturday, during which the tomb of Rabbi Yehuda Zev Segal, who died last year, was desecrated.
Protestors call for the severing of diplomatic ties with Israel during a march in Cape Town. (photo credit: MIKE HUTCHINGS / REUTERS)
A proposed multi-million dollar deal between Israel’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) and South Africa’s biggest dairy producer Clover could be in serious trouble due to heavy pressure from the anti-Israel lobby.
Newly-formed consortium Milco, in which Israel’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) holds a majority, is offering to buy 59.5% of the South African dairy producer.
We need to give the Likud Party some credit for not destroying itself in Tuesday’s internal elections. Given that primaries are the very embodiment of deal-making, political machines and big worker unions voting in lockstep, the results could have been far worse.
When it came to casting a secret ballot, the Likud Party’s registered voters did display some maturity. They weren’t the obedient foot soldiers of Benjamin Netanyahu, who has failed again and again in his machinations.
With elections barely two months away, the greatest challenge facing Israel’s Right emanates neither from the Center nor the Left, but, rather, from within.
Indeed, if recent polls are accurate, several small parties on the Right, most of which may not individually pass the minimum threshold to make it into the next Knesset, could nonetheless win a combined total of 10 to 12 seats, all of which would end up in the dustbin if they fail to run together.
August 2017, white supremacists marched in Charlottesville shouting, “Jews will not replace us”. October 2018, one white supremacist posted on social media that “Jews are taking over the white house”, and that Trump is a puppet of the Jews. Shabbat, the same month, a man enters a synagogue during a Bris celebration and butchers Jewish people who are praying. December 2018, Women’s March leader and Louis Farrakhan (“I’m not an antisemite, I’m an anti-termite”) fan, Tamika Mallory says: “White Jews, as white people, uphold white supremacy…”
Henry Ford devoted his life to two passions: making cars and demonizing Jews. When Hitler said, “I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration,” he wasn’t referring to his car manufacturing. He was referring to Ford’s anti-Semitic ideology that eventuated in the genocide of six million Jews.
Henry Ford does not deserve to be honored. The question the good people of Dearborn should ask themselves is: What would you do if the performing arts center were named after Jefferson Davis? If the answer is that you would remove Davis’s name, then you should remove Ford’s.
It was reported recently that the USA and the Taliban have reached a peace agreement on Afghanistan that will allow US forces to leave that country 17 years after they invaded it on October, 2001, less than a month after 9/11.
Al Qaeda had used that dysfunctional state as a safe haven and, while there, was able to plan and execute the attacks that took the lives of over 3000 people in. After the West invaded, the Taliban