Bennett in Final Interviews: 'The Opposition Is Ready to Burn the State'

Despite his fierce criticism of Netanyahu, Bennett told Israeli news outlets in his exit interviews that he would not rule out sitting with anybody in a future coalition

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Outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Knesset.
Outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Knesset.Credit: Michal Fattal
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Haaretz

Outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett slammed Benjamin Netanyahu and the opposition as "a danger to the State of Israel" in his exit interviews with Israel's three major news outlets on Saturday evening, though he did not rule out sitting in a future coalition with the opposition leader and his far-right partners.

In what could be his last interviews before he hands over the premiership to his coalition partner Yair Lapid, Bennett slammed ex-prime minister Netanyahu for the "most partisan behavior I have seen in years" and said that he is "really not the right person" to lead Israel.

Israel heads to fifth election, and its democracy is on the line

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Bennett assailed the opposition’s conduct, saying that it “was ready to burn the state if we don’t give it to them.” He added that “the poison machine caught the weakest links on the left and the right and worked tirelessly until the links broke.”

Despite this, he did not rule out cooperating with his former ally. "If everyone rejects everyone, we will have no government, and we will need to go to four more elections," he said.

He also said that Religious Zionism, an offshoot of his previous party that became one of his fiercest detractors, are also legitimate partners. "I want a coalition from [far-right lawmaker Itamar] Ben-Gvir to Mansour Abbas," the prime minister said.

"I appreciate Mansour Abbas a lot, but it's not good to be dependent on him," he told Channel 12.

According to Bennett, his greatest mistake over the past year was not devoting enough time to politics. “I can’t only devote myself to matters of state. Politics is a critical and sacred tool. The next time I’ll deal with politics much more,” he said, adding: “I needed less Zelenskyy and MBZ [referring to the United Arab Emirates' ruler] and more Silman and Orbach.”

"When I started the role, they said it would last days…the truth is that one, crammed year is a huge accomplishment,"the prime minister said.

On the subject of whether Bennett will seek public office again, he told Kan that "he has not yet made his mind up," with the next round of elections slated for the fall.

The prime minister said that it is not about "how many seats" he will achieve, with the prime minister hovering just above the electoral threshold in recent polls, but explained that he is asking "how to get the State of Israel out of this pit and out of this rift, and whether I have a role to play."

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