Sever Plocker
Sever Plocker
Photo: Ynet
Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanayhu and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

Bennett's government must free itself from Netanyahu's shadow

Opinion: Accomplishments of current administration - from passing state budget to handling of coronavirus - speak well enough for themselves; dwelling on actions taken by former leader only erodes their power and standing with public

Sever Plocker |
Published: 11.24.21, 23:21
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his cabinet will never reach government maturity as long as they continue to live under the shadow on Benjamin Netanyahu, comparing every action and decision with that of the former premier and his administration.
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  • These comparisons grant them no respect, are wrong and ultimately irrelevant.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    נפתלי בנט ובנימין נתניהו במליאת הכנסת
    נפתלי בנט ובנימין נתניהו במליאת הכנסת
    Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanayhu and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
    (Photo: Knesset Channel, Yoav Dudkevich)
    Comparing Bennett's handling of the fourth coronavirus infection wave to that of Netanyahu's treatment of the three previous ones is simply wrong due to one important reason: Those outbreaks occurred before the rollout of the vaccines, so the only tool at hand was lockdown. Those closures brought the virus' reproductive number (R) to 0.5 and the infection rate to 0.3%.
    Now the vaccines have replaced the lockdown as the main measure against the pandemic, not only in Israel, but around the world.
    Here is the place to comment on the incumbent government's indifference to the worryingly high rate of the population who are still unvaccinated, especially young people and children.
    The sanctity with which senior public health officials talk about the right of parents to deliberate and decide for themselves whether or not to vaccinate their children is puzzling.
    Since when did the average Israeli parent become an expert on epidemiology?
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    חיסוני ילדים בירושלים
    חיסוני ילדים בירושלים
    A child recives her coronavirus vaccine at a clinic in Jerusalem
    (Photo: EPA)
    The government continues to talk soft, fearing comparisons to its predecessors, who did not dwell on the public's will.
    Another matter is the issue of a state budget. Netanyahu sailed the ship called "the State of Israel" without a spending bill for over two years, while Bennett managed to pass one within six months of taking office.
    At the height of the pandemic, governments around the world exceeded spending allocated by their respective budgets, approving huge additional expenditures. In order to save the economy from the destructive effect of the virus, immediate measures were required in those critical months - and it is good that they were taken, winning praise from international monetary institutions.
    Another event that brought up wrongful comparisons among the public was the rather "quiet" release of the Israeli couple who was arrested in Turkey earlier this month for suspected espionage after taking a picture of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's palace.
    Compare it with the "bombastic" release of Naama Issachar from the Russian prison in 2019. The Israeli woman was arrested at a Moscow airport for alleged drug smuggling after some 10 grams of marijuana were found in her bag during a stopover from India.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    נעמה יששכר עולה על המטוס חזרה לישראל לאחר שחרורה מהכלא ברוסיה
    נעמה יששכר עולה על המטוס חזרה לישראל לאחר שחרורה מהכלא ברוסיה
    Then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara with Namaa Issachar after her release from a Russian prison last year
    (Photo: MCT)
    Issachar was caught in possession of forbidden substances, arrested, sentenced and put in jail. Her release required a pardon from President Vladimir Putin, a rare move by the Russian leader.
    The charges against Mordy and Natali Oknin, on the other hand, were absurd and false from the start: no indictment was filed, with the judge in Istanbul hinting to the Turkish authorities that he was going to release them.
    In short, these are two completely separate events that required completely separate diplomatic strategies.
    In another almost herculean effort to differentiate themselves from Netanyahu, the Bennett government approved a bill that is supposed to cap the premiership to eight years.
    The Israel Democracy Institute, which is as far as you can get from a Netanyahu ally, published an opinion piece earlier this year stating that such a restriction does not exist in any liberal parliamentary democracy.
    Prof. Yedidia Stern, the institute's chairman, reiterated this position in an opinion piece for Ynet's sister publication Yedioth Ahronoth.
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    מליאת הכנסת
    מליאת הכנסת
    Prime Minister Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in the Knesset plenum
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    "There is no example in the world of a parliamentary democracy in which the premiership is limited. Would we like to conduct regime experiments on the body of Israeli society?" he asked rhetorically.
    Well, Prof. Stern got his answer when not even one minister objected to the bill when it arrived at the cabinet for approval, before going up for a plenum vote in Knesset in a move more reminiscent of less enlightened regimes.
    Bennett and his ministers need to grow up. Their achievements so far are many and speak well enough for themselves.
    Looking back at the days of Netanyahu only further erodes their power. If they truly wish to bring Israel into a new age, it's time to stop comparing themselves to the former leader.

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