קבלת פנים לנשיא ארה"ב בנתב"ג
Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett
Photo: AFP
Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett

Why is Bennett avoiding media since handing office over to Lapid?

Analysis: Some wonder what lies behind Bennett's disappearance from the public eye, while media reports suggest fallout with Lapid; meanwhile, Bennett's orbit deny rumors and say he decided to maintain a low profile

Itamar Eichner |
Published: 07.18.22, 20:06
Prime Minister Yair Lapid invited his governing partner Naftali Bennett to two major events during U.S. President Joe Biden's visit to Israel. The first was the welcoming ceremony at the airport, and the second one was a meeting in Jerusalem.
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  • Bennett decided to only show up for the welcoming ceremony where he maintained a low profile. This was the only event he showed up to.
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     קבלת פנים לנשיא ארה"ב בנתב"ג
     קבלת פנים לנשיא ארה"ב בנתב"ג
    Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett
    (Photo: AFP)
    In the last few days, several media outlets reported about rising tensions between Lapid and Bennett. Channel 13 quoted sources in Lapid's orbit as saying that Bennett tried to horn in on several events he wasn't invited to and tried to obtain benefits as a former prime minister despite not meeting the criteria, having served in the post for fewer than 18 months.
    Bennett reportedly considered asking the Knesset's Finance Committee to change the criteria so he would be eligible for benefits, but he eventually backed out. Bennett's decision to withdraw came after Lapid informed him he will not support his request.
    On the other hand, Bennett's associates said he didn't receive respect befitting an alternate prime minister as he should.
    Bennett's office squarely denied reports about tensions between the two and said that his absence was primarily tied to his wish to stay away from the spotlight and maintain as low a profile as possible. If it were up to Bennett, he wouldn't have attended Biden's welcoming ceremony, but he didn't want it to look as if he was avoiding it. Sources close to the former premier said that it was his own decision, and it had nothing to do with Lapid.
    Bennett remains very active during Cabinet meetings on security issues, especially the Iranian saga, and he intends on helping with the matter. However, he decided to leave the main stage to Lapid and let him take the reins.
    2 View gallery
    נפתלי בנט ו יאיר לפיד ב מליאת הכנסת כנסת
    נפתלי בנט ו יאיר לפיד ב מליאת הכנסת כנסת
    Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid
    (Photo: AP)
    This explanation might have been plausible if Bennett had not been absent from Lapid's first weekly Cabinet meeting.
    He was also absent from the opening of Lapid's second Cabinet meeting held on Sunday despite being at the Prime Minister's Office at the time. Bennett just stood outside, and waited for the press to leave after Lapid's statement to enter the room.
    Sources on both sides claim that the two remain close friends and that Lapid still confers regularly with Bennett on various issues.
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