Analysis | Palestinian Prisoner Release |

Devious and Dangerous, Naftali Bennett Shows His True Face

In forcing prime minister to fight for prisoner release vote, Bennett guns for Netanyahu's role as leader of the right in Israel.

Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter
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Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter

Sunday will be remembered as a milestone in the history of the third Netanyahu government for a number of reasons. First, the penny dropped for the Likud ministers about their "partner" from Habayit Hayehudi, Naftali Bennett. They understood that he is much more devious, cynical, dangerous and uninhibited than his predecessors at the helm of the National Religious Party. He has not come to work alongside the Likud in the government, but to undermine the Likud with the goal of inheriting its place in the leadership of the right - and to do so, everything is kosher. Even what isn't kosher, such as embarrassing the government all around the world.

Second, the cooperation between Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu - which was first reported in Haaretz two weeks ago - has begun. Avigdor Lieberman has ordered his ministers Sofa Landver and Yitzhak Aharonovitch - who voted in favor of releasing the Palestinian prisoners - to support the proposed racist bill of MK Orit Strock (Habayit Hayehudi) which would revoke the president's authority to pardon someone who committed a crime for nationalist motives - against Israelis. Jewish terrorists are not included. Enlisting Lieberman was also the first step in a series of reprisal actions Bennett plans against Netanyahu for his crime of not supporting Moshe Leon in his bid to be mayor of Jerusalem.

Third, Yair Lapid and Bennett, whose love story we are already so tired of hearing and writing about, experienced their first public split. This should surprise no one: The minute the peace process comes up, even if the issue is marginal, such as the release of a few dozen older terrorists, this preposterous alliance - so full of hugs - crumbles.

The campaign slogan of Habayit Hayehudi was "Something new is starting." This new something, as it became clear once again on Sunday, is package of hypocrisy, ingratitude and political vandalism - that brings to mind the ritual behavior of the National Religious Party.

Hypocrisy, since it was clear to Bennett and his comrades that Netanyahu could never go back on his commitment to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and could never stop the prisoner release. To do so would have been disastrous for Israel in the international arena and would have turned Israel into a leper state. Deep down inside, Bennett certainly wouldn't want this, but what does he care if can gain some points.

Ingratitude, since if not for Netanyahu having fought on the eve of the opening of the peace negotiations with the Palestinians over the ideological issues that are most precious to the right - refusing to commit in advance to that negotiations will based on the 1967 lines and refusing to freeze construction in the territories - Israel would not have been forced to release prisoners. Instead of shutting up and thanking Netanyahu, Bennett and his friends are simply incapable of controlling themselves.

In a transparent attempt to make some small political gain on the right, they pulled a cynical trick on Netanyahu and the Likud on Sunday, making it seem as though freeing jailed terrorists was Netanyahu's greatest goal in life.

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett: once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur.Credit: Michal Fattal

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