עינב שיף
Einav Schiff
Photo: Nimrod Sonders
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaking during his first official meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden last August in Washington

Bennett's fumbling on world stage is cause for concern

Opinion: PM may think his lack of experience and often embarrassing performance during meetings with international leaders is charming; but as the leader of the 'coalition for change,' such behavior is unacceptable

Einav Schiff |
Published: 10.25.21, 23:21
Prime Minister Naftali's Bennett's globe-trotting appears to be a key aspect of his political strategy, telling his naysayers "yes I can," despite being the leader of a party that won only six Knesset seats at the last elections.
  • Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter

  • Bennett was not deterred when days before his scheduled meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington, 13 U.S. troops were killed in Afghanistan after they came under attack at the Kabul airport.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    ראש הממשלה נפתלי בנט נפגש עם נשיא ארה"ב ג'ו ביידן
    ראש הממשלה נפתלי בנט נפגש עם נשיא ארה"ב ג'ו ביידן
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaking during his first official meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden last August in Washington
    (Photo: AP)
    The premier forged on as planned to hold his first official meeting at the White House as if Biden had nothing more important on his mind.
    The prime minister also opted to appear in person at the UN General Assembly, rather than address the international forum remotely, while after his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he stages several press briefings where he raved about how good the summit between the two was.
    If his coalition succeeds in passing the state budget, he will, as some prophesize, continue his world travels with the excitement and enjoyment of a child, as he shakes hands with all the important people.
    Bennett and his political allies claim that they are still learning the ropes. They are doing so as they are trying to deal with the challenges posed by a nuclear Iran and its entrenchment in the region.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    נפתלי בנט בנאום ראשון באו"ם
    נפתלי בנט בנאום ראשון באו"ם
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addressing the UN General Assembly in Spetember
    (Photo: GPO)
    In his meeting with Biden for example, Bennett lectured the president at length. Biden's apparent lack of concentration – if not his actual nap – was fodder in the hands of the Likud party and its chair Benjamin Netanyahu who misses no opportunity to mock the new prime minister.
    Bennett's UN speech, meanwhile, was tarnished by his attack against Israel's health officials - an issue that should not be discussed on the international stage.
    And in Russia, the prime minister was caught on camera turning his back on Putin, one of the most powerful world leaders, as they entered the room to begin their important meeting.
    During a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Bennett then outed Construction and Housing Minister Zeev Elkin - who joined him in Russia to act as a translator - by revealing that Elkin fell asleep when Putin was speaking. "We were after an overnight flight," Bennett explained. "I was making a point at length, only to discover Elkin was asleep," Bennett told his ministers. "Putin found it hilarious," he added.
    Elkin made a feeble excuse, complaining that he was never offered a glass of water, let alone a cup of coffee, by the Russian hosts during the entire meeting.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    ראש הממשלה נפתלי בנט עם נשיא רוסיה ולדימיר פוטין
    ראש הממשלה נפתלי בנט עם נשיא רוסיה ולדימיר פוטין
    Zeev Elkin, Prime Minster Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Friday
    (Photo: GPO)
    But in all seriousness, and despite Bennett's misplaced amusement, a leader of Putin's scale can find Elkin's fatigue funny, but as the prime minister of Israel, Bennett would do better not to display such a lack of experience.
    Both Bennett and Elkin may think their embarrassing performance has no relevance and opt to believe what some analysts contended - that Putin devoted more time to the new prime minister - hours more - than he was prepared to spend, with his predecessor.
    The prime minister may think his decorum mishaps are charming, make him seem human and not at all infantile or unprofessional. He may think his hosts' amusement is proof of a friendly atmosphere.
    But as far as his "coalition for change" is concerned, misreading the reality is not an endearing feature, it is a bug in the program that must be fixed.



    Talkbacks for this article 0