Bennett Calls on Netanyahu: 'Let Go, Allow Israel to Move Forward'

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Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett
Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett, last monthCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Bennett calls on Netanyahu: 'Let go, allow Israel to move forward'

Yamina head Naftali Bennett called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "to let go and allow Israel to move forward," adding that "a violent machine is working to break Yamina and New Hope lawmakers."

On the day in which two more Yamina lawmakers were provided with additional security, Bennett condemned the "sponsored and directed operation, aimed at breaking [right-wing lawmakers] so that they will defect and vote against the new government." He added that "unfortunately, all means are kosher" in the campaign against them.

Addressing Netanyahu directly, he urged Netanyahu to "let go and allow Israel to move forward...don't leave scorched earth behind you."

"People are permitted to vote for a government, even if you are not in charge. A government that is, by the way, ten degrees more right-wing than the current one," he added.

Click here to read the full report.

Yamina head Naftali Bennett. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Referring to his rivals, Netanyahu asks: 'How did God deal with opposition to Moses?'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invoked a violent biblical passage when discussing his political rivals, implying they would be swallowed alive by the ground.

"How did God deal with opposition to Moses, our teacher?" the prime minister said at the "sheva brachot" – part of the Jewish wedding ceremony – of the daughter of Shas leader and his coalition partner Arye Dery over a week ago.

In the Books of Numbers, Moses' rival Korach and his followers are swallowed alive by the earth after attempting to overthrow the leader.

The comments were made public by ultra-Orthodox website Chadrei Charedim.

Michael Hauser Tov

Anti-Netanyahu party heads hold first meeting

Party leaders from Israel’s incoming unity government gathered Sunday for their first work meeting.

The politicians emphasized the need to swear-in a government as early as Wednesday in order to move the country forward.

They also expressed concerns over the prevailing atmosphere at demonstrations and on social media, and stressed that leaders need to work to calm tensions down.

The heads of the unity government parties, todayCredit: Ronen Cohen
Anshel Pfeffer

Naftali Bennett, next Israeli PM: The man behind the slogans and stereotypes

Naftali Bennett, who is on track to become Israel’s 13th prime minister within days, is easily labeled – religious hard-liner, ultranationalist and settler leader on the one hand, high-tech millionaire, special-forces operative and political wunderkind on the other. Most of these labels, on closer scrutiny, don’t really apply. At least not fully.

Bennett at 49 is the man who has come closest to the holy grail of Israeli politics, replacing Benjamin Netanyahu, but he’s not really a politician, certainly not a consistent one. In the last 14 years he has been in five different parties. He entered the Knesset for the first time just eight years ago, and just two years ago one of his parties even failed to cross the electoral threshold. Now he’s about to become prime minister and his current party, Yamina, is falling apart with half its members having either defected or considering it.

>> Click here to read Anshel Pfeffer's profile of Naftali Bennett


Netanyahu will remain Likud chairman and opposition head if new government is formed, minister says

Finance Minister Yisrael Katz reiterated his support for Benjamin Netanyahu's leadership of Likud at a party meeting Sunday, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office claimed.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is our candidate for prime minister even if we go into the opposition, and he will be the head of the opposition," Katz stated.

"I never contested the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu is the chairman of Likud and will remain the chairman of Likud. There is nothing to discuss, and Likud will not deal with this. It is a clear fact," the finance minister continued.

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.

Netanyahu tells Likud members to lay into right-wing politicians who teamed-up with the left

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decried what he described as election fraud on an unprecedented scale on Sunday, dubbing the establishment of a government with a slim Knesset majority as an attack on Israeli democracy itself.

Speaking before Likud lawmakers at a party faction meeting in the Knesset on Sunday, Netanyahu said that "journalists are taking part in this propaganda machine that enlisted in favor of the left, but you don’t have to be afraid of laying into" right-wing politicians who Netanyahu said are teaming up with the left. 

Netanyahu went on to say that Israelis were “witnessing the biggest election fraud in the history of the country, in my opinion in the history of democracy.”

On the day in which two more Yamina lawmakers were provided with additional security, Netanyahu "condemned violence from every side, even as others are silent as incitement rages against us," but reasserted that freedom of expression does not constitute incitement.

>> Click here to read the full report here

Netanyahu speaking in the Knesset last weekCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Smotrich accuses Yamina MK Nir Orbach of siding with 'terrorist supporters' amid incitement fears

Religious Zionism chairman Bezalel Smotrich addressed Yamina MK Nir Orbach on Sunday, accusing him of planning a settler "disengagement plan on steroids," in a bid to increase pressure on the undecided lawmaker days before the Knesset is set to swear in the new government. Smotrich also accused Orbach of forming a "left wing government with terrorist supporters," referencing the United Arab List headed by Mansour Abbas. This statement comes after the Knesset security officer ordered, in coordination with the police, a security detail for Orbach and fellow Yamina lawmaker Idit Silman following the party's signing of a coalition deal with Yesh Atid.

Shin Bet Chief Nadav Argaman warned against incitement on Saturday, saying that it could lead to someone being physically harmed. On Thursday, the Shin Bet assigned a security detail to Bennett for the first time, after Bennett and Lapid announced they had formed a government. This move is unusual as Israel’s internal security service only protects the prime minister, president and leader of the opposition.

Michael Hauser Tov

Two more Yamina MKs assigned security detail

The Knesset security officer ordered on Sunday, in coordination with the police, a security detail for Yamina lawmakers Nir Orbach and Idit Silman, in light of incitement against lawmakers following the party's signing of a coalition deal with Yesh Atid.

On Thursday, the Shin Bet security service assigned a security detail to the party's chairman, Naftali Bennett, after he and Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid announced they had formed a government. This move is unusual; Israel’s internal security service only protects the prime minister, president and leader of the opposition.

On Saturday, Shin Bet Chief Nadav Argaman warned against incitement, saying that it could lead to someone being physically harmed, as vitriol surrounding the political situation in Israel reaches a peak. "As someone who leads an organization meant to protect the nation's security, democratic regime and institutions, I am calling and warning that this discourse may be interpreted by certain groups or lone wolves as permission for violence and illegal activity that could lead to physical harm," Argaman said.

Last week, the Shin Bet warned of an uptick in incitement against Bennett, Lapid, and Yamina lawmaker Ayelet Shaked. Their security level was raised to 5 – one less than the highest possible designation. Lapid's security is more intense than it was when he served as opposition leader. The rest of the Knesset members are secured by the Knesset guards.

Michael Hauser Tov

Party leaders to meet as government swearing-in approaches

A new Israeli government may be sworn in as soon as Wednesday after securing a coalition to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Party leaders will meet Sunday to finalize the coalition deal, with Yamina party leader Naftali expected to announce that all of his party members save one lawmaker Amichai Shikli will support the deal.

Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party is expected to maintain the pressure on Yamina lawmakers in an effort to thwart the new government. In recent days, Likud lawmakers have called on demonstrators to rally outside the homes of several such politicians.

Ayelet Shaked outside Naftali Bennett's house in Ra'anana, last FridayCredit: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv
Michael Hauser Tov

Party leaders to meet this evening to finalize coalition deal

Party leaders of the anti-Netanyahu bloc are expected to meet at 5:00 P.M. on Sunday to finalize the coalition deal between the ideologically disparate parties.

Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett is expected to announce that all of his party members – save lawmaker Amichai Shikli, who has already expressed his opposition – will support the deal. Another Yamina lawmaker, Nir Orbach, will allegedly decide later whether to support or reject the new coalition deal, but party sources say Orbach will likely vote to support it.

On Friday, Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin (Likud) announced that he intends to announce to the Knesset plenum on Monday that Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid has succeeded in forming a government, which means that the government will be sworn in by the following Monday at the latest. However, Levin did not announce when the vote will take place; it may be held much earlier. Bennett and Lapid will not advance the plans to replace Levin with Mickey Levy of Yesh Atid at this point.

Aaron Rabinowitz

Top Right-wing Israeli Rabbis Call on Public to Do 'Everything' to Thwart Bennett-Lapid Gov't

Six leading religious-Zionist rabbis issued a letter on Saturday calling on the public to do "everything" in their power as not to allow the new government that was announced last week, which intends to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to materialize.

"This government runs completely counter to the will of the people as definitively expressed in the last election. It is not too late, it is certainly possible," reads the statement, which was signed by Rabbis Chaim Druckman, Shlomo Aviner, Shmuel Eliyahu, Yitzchak Ben Shachar, David Chai Hacohen and Eliezer Waldman.

"It is impossible to accept the reality that a government will be formed in Israel that will harm the most fundamental aspects of religion and state matters that have been accepted since the establishment of the State of Israel until today by all Israeli governments," reads the statement.

>> Click here to read the full story.