Amihai Attali
Amichai Attali
Photo: Screenshot
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

As coalition crumbles, Bennett remains tied down to the throne

Opinion: Years in the commando and hi-tech sector have made PM a shrewd political strategist but after he realized his premiership dream, he sank into the bog; now as his coalition implodes, it seems no masterstroke can pull him out of this quagmire

Amichai Attali |
Published: 06.16.22, 23:39
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's finest political hours have always featured adrenaline-gushing extreme events and special operations. It breathes new life into him. This man, who cut his teeth in a top IDF commando unit and later in a start-up company, functions best during nail-biting moments of crucial decision-making.
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  • The peak was without a doubt his unimaginable political feat to become prime minister, the zenith of every politician's aspirations, at the head of a 6-man party.
    3 View gallery
    בנט בטקס אזכרה לחללי מלחמת שלום הגליל
    בנט בטקס אזכרה לחללי מלחמת שלום הגליל
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
    (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
    But even beforehand, we saw these attributes shine throughout his political career: when former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu led a government with the narrow support of 61 lawmakers in 2016, Bennett prevailed in an arm-twisting game and managed to coerce him to expand the powers of Cabinet members.
    He established the New Right party in 2018 in a stealthy operation that caught all his allies off guard, and a few months after he failed to pass the electoral threshold, he compelled Netanyahu to make him defense minister in his caretaker government.
    The common denominator between all these events is the neverending battle between Bennett and Netanyahu. And history shows that Bennett always had the upper hand so far.
    Bennett, a lone wolf who has reinvented himself time and again, managed to sway the captain according to his moods and whims.
    Now he faces a whole different tune. Bennett is used to operating in ninja-like maneuvers, but now he is grounded in a static position under heavy artillery. He is tied to the railroad tracks and the train is racing at him.
    The Arab parties aren't delivering the goods and Blue & White MK Michael Biton is crying out for transportation reforms. Even in his own party, MKs Amichai Chikli and Idit Silman were pushed over the edge while Nir Orbach is hanging by a thread.
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    Yamina MK Idit Silman, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu
    Yamina MK Idit Silman, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu
    Yamina MK Idit Silman, Bennett and Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch, Alex Kolomoisky)
    Now Bennett is a disrepaired machine sending nuts and bolts flying all over the place in this political sausage factory and everyone is waiting for the moment it stops churning out concoctions that give everyone stomach aches.
    According to all the hints Nir Orbach peppers here and there, if there is no option to form an alternative right-wing government soon, the dissolution of the Knesset is right around the corner.
    This is not typical of the Bennett we once knew at all. We are not used to seeing him sitting in the line of fire and taking heat from Netanyahu's big guns.
    Bennett of a year ago was supposed to be drawing up the blueprints of a rescue operation that would launch him into the best position imaginable out of nowhere. The Bennett we once knew was supposed to inspire and lead either a move to dissolve parliament or form a new government.
    Considering the current state of affairs in Israeli politics, everything is looking out of reach in this Knesset. But looking at Bennett's DNA, he is supposed to be confecting a shocking and extraordinary plan.
    But can we really rely on the events of the past to draw conclusions regarding his actions right now? Not necessarily. This time, he has way less wiggle room than what he is used to.
    3 View gallery
    Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett in the Knesset on Monday
    Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett in the Knesset on Monday
    Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Bennett in the Knesset
    (Photo: Screenshot)
    As a commando soldier, one has to always stay dynamic, but the prime minister's chair is immensely static, for various reasons. More so, despite his affinity for political machinations, Bennett has developed a true commitment toward Foreign Minister Yair Lapid who had laid out the red carpet for him all the way to the prime minister's office.
    Given the static nature of the job, Bennett can lose from here on. Every second in this coalition only further erodes his political standing, yet he can't escape it.
    This goes to show that commando stunts and ninja maneuvers can help you seize the premiership, but once you've reached that goal, the absence of true political power will have you sinking in the bog.
    Bennett is now tied down to his throne, and no master stroke can untangle the rope.
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