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.”
BDS movement founder Omar Barghouti (YouTube)
Omar Barghouti, founder and leader of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, was denied entry to the United States on Wednesday.
He was informed by airline staff at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Israel that U.S. immigration officials told the American consul in Tel Aviv to block him from boarding the flight.
A State Department official told NPR, “Visa records are confidential under U.S. law; therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases.”
The US Capitol Building. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Four of Israel’s most dedicated supporters in the US Congress on Friday expressed concern that the Jewish state may annex the West Bank, as results from Israel’s election earlier this week confirmed the likelihood of a right-wing government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“As strong, life-long supporters of Israel, a U.S.-Israel relationship rooted in our shared values, and the two-state solution, we are greatly concerned by the possibility of Israel taking unilateral steps to annex the West Bank,” said a joint statement from Democratic representatives Eliot Engel (NY), Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs,
The final image sent by Israeli spacecraft Beresheet before it crash-landed on the moon. Photo: courtesy of Space IL.
Astronauts and scientists at the US space agency NASA commended the Israeli non-profit organization SpaceIL for its efforts afyer its spacecraft “Beresheet” failed to land safely on the moon on Thursday.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said, “While NASA regrets the end of the SpaceIL mission without a successful lunar landing of the Beresheet lander, we congratulate SpaceIL, the Israel Aerospace Industries and the state of Israel on the incredible accomplishment of sending the first privately funded mission into lunar orbit.”
“Der ewige Jude” – “Theeternal Jew” movie poster . (photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)
The lead article Thursday on the opinion page of the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper compared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the 1940 Nazi antisemitic movie The Eternal Jew.
The article was titled in the paper “The Eternal Netanyahu” in a word play in connection with director Fritz Hippler’s antisemitic pseudo-documentary, based on the medieval legend of the wandering Jew, that served as a cinematographic justification for the Holocaust.
As an orthopedic surgeon for 30 years in Washington, D.C. I see patients from all over the world and from every walk of life and what has become clear to me is that everyone is fundamentally the same. As a rule, I shy away from political or religious discussions with my patients as they have no bearing on their care. But occasionally, the discussions are thrust on me.
Several years ago I treated a professor of political science from a local university and had established a good rapport with him. On his last visit before saying goodbye he popped a question.
It is well-known by some and wholly ignored by others that Islam has a long, sad history of antisemitism, a bigotry that originated in the seventh century CE (the first Islamic century) and has grown more vicious in the 21st. Combined with an almost universal anti-Zionism and bolstered by many on the political “left”, it is today the most ubiquitous and deadliest form of Jew-hatred. It takes the form, not just of insults, boycotts, and lawfare, but of wars, terrorist attacks, and calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and the genocide of the Jews.
Amman – The streets in Amman’s Jebel al-Weibdeh are crowded in the early evening with sounds of young people looking for a place to relax. Coffee shops intermix with art studios selling crafts for tourists. At the Maestro bar and restaurant, a band is getting ready for a live performance. The lights are dimmed and someone has put “no smoking” signs on the tables – they are out of place with the ash trays. Apparently, Monday has jam sessions and anyone can bring their instrument to join in. But it’s Wednesday.
A few of my readers recently asked me to explain the difference between “Palestinians” living inside and outside of Israel’s borders. Who are the “Palestinians” anyway? First, see below:
“Palestine” does not exist today as a nation-state, but at multiple times in history, including the present, it has been one of the names of a place. The Romans, recalling the defunct Philistines – non-Arab Sea People – coined it after defeating [Jewish general] Bar Kochba in 135 CE to disassociate what had been Judaea from Jews.
President Trump’s peace plan for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict surfaced two years ago and to this day – remarkably – only he and a handful of aides know its precise details. A stream of leaks, however, contains enough internal consistency that their collation, supplemented by conversations with administration officials, provides a plausible outline of the plan’s contents.
On March 31, a South Bend grandma brought her grandson to the hospital. The 11-month-old baby boy had been shot. His grandmother’s car had also taken fire. It was another early morning in South Bend.
Around the same time, Mayor Buttigieg, was toting up the $7 million in donations from his charm offensive as his bid for the 2020 Democrat nomination got underway. The national media never bothered reporting the shooting of an 11-month-old boy in the city he was supposed to be running, but instead confined its coverage of South Bend matters to a publicity stunt wedding officiated by Buttigieg.
The Palestinian students are being targeted because of their political affiliations and not because of any crime they committed.
While the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are busy beating up each other’s supporters, “pro-Palestinian” activists on US and Canadian university campuses are busy blaming Israel for Palestinian woes.
As an American Christian who has had the privilege of working in senior-level positions for four US presidents and who has enjoyed a close association with three of Israel’s prime ministers, I believe it is my obligation to provide the Israeli people with my views. I think my viewpoint is important because a vast number of American Evangelical Christians believe as I believe. In addition, Evangelical Christians are, without question, Israel’s strongest supporters in the United States.
Does Case 3000 – known as the submarine affair – prove that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is guilty of doing something illegal? Well, all Likud supporters believe with absolute confidence that it’s a political plot. Netanyahu’s opponents, however, believe – also with absolute confidence – that it’s the largest corruption case to ever occur in the State of Israel.