A Year in Office, Bennett Plays Up Achievements, Appeals to Israel's 'Silent Majority'

In a pamphlet issued at a time of increasing political uncertainty, the Israeli prime minister calls out opposition parties, who respond by saying they 'will do everything to bring down Bennett's weak government'

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Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Knesset, in May.
Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Knesset, in May.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Reuters
Haaretz

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett appealed for more open support from what he described as Israel's silent majority on Friday as he marked a year in office with his governing coalition tenuously controlling half the seats in parliament.

In a 27-page pamphlet circulated over social media, Bennett sought to play up his achievements and fend off his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, a conservative who as opposition leader has accused the government of being soft on national security.

Bennett, a right-wing nationalist, ended Netanyahu's record 12-year reign in June 2021 at the head of a rare cross-partisan alliance that includes an Islamist party representing members of Israel's 21 percent Arab minority, many of whom identify with the Palestinians.

Casting attacks on him as offset by the "silent Zionist majority", Bennett urged his supporters: "Raise your voice. Spread our message that decent people with different views who love the country can sit together and work for its betterment."

"Bennett's lies can't hide the fact that he handed control of Israel to Mansour Abbas, Ahmad Tibi and their terror-supporting friends," the Likud party responded, vowing to "bring down this weak government."

The United Arab List, headed by Abbas, is a coalition partner, but holds not ministerial portfolios. Ahmad Tibi of the Joint List is in the opposition, alongside Netanyahu's Likud party.

"Bennett deceived, lied and cheated from the start," the far-right Religious Zionism opposition party said. "He continues to do so in a letter that glorifies a government that shuns half of the population and calls on left-wingers to start a civil war… The people are united in their aversion from Bennett."

Idit Silman, a lawmaker from Bennett's own party, quit in April, citing sectarian disputes and ending his 61-59 seat majority in the Knesset. That left him vulnerable to no-confidence motions and banking on disarray among the opposition to survive.

Bennett's pamphlet highlighting his purported achievements as prime minister comes about two years after he published a book, entitled "How to Beat a Pandemic." The book, criticizing his predecessor's handling of the coronavirus crisis, played a part in Bennett's election campaign.

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