On the 20th of this month, the telephone rang in the home of Education Minister and Bayit Yehudi Leader Naftali Bennett. On the line was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He had called to ask Bennett not to put up the Annexation Bill for a vote in the cabinet meeting on Sunday. Bennett didn't give up easily. As long as there was no substantial political debate on Israeli policies on those matters, he made clear to Netanyahu, everyone would just do what they wanted to.
That may be the reason that the Security Cabinet meeting was dedicated to the political subject, which is a very rare occurrence. The ministers on the Security Cabinet discussed the line that the country should take with the Trump administration.
One of the ministers said last week that at that meeting's conclusion, it was unclear what Netanyahu's position was on annexation in general and on annexing Ma'ale Adumim in particular. After three hours of discussion, a further meeting was promised.
In any case, Bennett's forcing the prime minister's hand didn't contribute to the health of their relationship. Netanyahu, who wants to win right-wing votes, replied in his way when he announced massive construction in settlement blocs arround Jerusalem This showed the settlers who really cares for them and who's making empty promises, as is the case in Amona.
Another minister said that even though the Security Cabinet is called the "Political-Security Cabinet" in Hebrew, political discussions are rare. "When it comes to political matters, Netanyahu keeps his cards very, very close to the chest. He doesn't share with anyone and doesn't take anyone into consideration," said a senior Likud minister.
For example, the day before Trump's inauguration, Bennett proposed that Israel take a series of significant steps, such as annexing Ma'ale Adumim. A minister from the Security Cabinet who supports Bennett's position said that the Bayit Yehudi leader "told us that the timing was excellent, because Obama couldn't do anything at that point, while Trump wouldn't be damaged because it didn't take place during his shift. But Netanyahu refused to hold a discussion, and the timing was missed."
Another minister from the Cabinet said that Netanyahu prefers security discussions where he has the support of the military establishment which causes all the ministers to fall into line. "But the ministers participate in the discussion, and he definitely listens," he said, adding that Netanyahu from time to time brings out military personnel to update the Security Cabinet on matters, such as regarding his conversation with the American president. "But when we ask him to hold a discussion on a political matter, he promises to hold one and doesn't set it. Since he's the one responsible for setting the agenda for Cabinet meetings, nothing can be done."
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who is on the Security Cabinet, commented on the matter openly: "We absolutely want serious political discussions to shape the worldview of the Israeli government and decide, for example, what we want from the Trump administration, not just what they want from us."