Opinion |

Bennett, Don't Try to Survive at All Costs

1.7450479
Zehava Galon
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett chairs a cabinet meeting at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, Sunday.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett chairs a cabinet meeting at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, Sunday.Credit: Abir Sultan /AP
1.7450479
Zehava Galon

Hello, Naftali Bennett. You and I always enjoyed a mutual appreciation, despite many disagreements on many matters. For instance, when you said that “Israelis wake up in the morning and don’t think about the conflict.” Because I do think about it. I was disappointed, because you had the opportunity to put into motion a move to settle the conflict with the Palestinians. And yet, over the past year you have shown a backbone and formed a government. And with all its creaking, it did one great thing: It included an Arab party in the coalition.

From here, we need to talk about the state of your coalition. There is talk of a dramatic week ahead of us in the Knesset, and it doesn’t look good. It brings to mind that old Gashash skit about the car. There was a Shikli? Now you find yourself in a situation no prime minister should be in: You have to beg Nir “Who?” Orbach to let you survive as prime minister until U.S. President Joe Biden comes to visit in less than a month. The man dragged you through endless pow-wows, talked your ear off, and ended up not giving you an answer, instead sending a letter to the media. And this is a person who owes his 15 minutes of fame to you, and you alone.

Sadly, the political analysts are already burying your government alive. I remember stranger things happening. Ehud Olmert managed to hold on for almost three years following the Second Lebanon War, and Ariel Sharon became prime minister, although technically he wasn’t supposed to have a coalition. And yet, one must face reality: The situation doesn’t look good.

Therefore, here’s some advice: If and when you conclude that the coalition can no longer be maintained, or if you conclude that the personal price is too high, don’t let Nir Orbach fire you. Resign on your own volition. If you must go, go with your head held up high – so that this will be the last public memory of you in office. Of course, it is best if you first tell Orbach to go to hell and cut him loose from your list. Remember that the office of prime minister has dignity and importance, and don’t crawl on your belly. Yes, I know, your predecessor destroyed all remnants of respect for the office, but unlike him, you don’t take advice from a child who gets down on all fours and… No, I can’t describe further. Some things are not fit to print.

Let it end, then. Rather than obsess over the never-ending question of who will bring the government down, resign and pass the reigns to Yair Lapid, the architect of this government. He deserves it. He is the man who should head the transition government. Such a move will give you the public stature of a decent man whose word is his bond, a man unafraid to resign absent a proper alternative. Do not fear resignation. Ben-Gurion resigned seven times. Try to find some political conjuncture that will leave you in the running, but even if that doesn’t come to pass, the last word has not been said uttered.

Retire to your own Sde Boker, write a book – not a memoir, that’s the final nail in the coffin – and let the public miss you a little. It will happen. Here and there say something statesmanlike, so they’ll remember you. After a short while, you might once again become the public’s new hope. That’s how it goes in Israel – politicians here survive to their last day. And mostly: Restore dignity to the institution of the prime minister. The public will remember it, while Orbach, at best, will be the answer to a question in a game of trivial pursuit.

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