Bayit Yehudi chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett demanded publicly on Thursday the defense portfolio following the resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, stressing his appointment would get “Israel back to winning ways.”
"I appealed to the prime minister on Wednesday with a request to appoint me as the next defense minister with only one goal in mind—to get Israel back to winning ways,” he stated.
Speaking at an Education Ministry conference in Ramat Gan, Bennett said that he only has the interests of the country's security in mind.
"Israel is currently facing one of the most complex and dangerous periods ever when it comes to security. The octopus called Iran is spreading its tentacles in order to surround us. Hezbollah and Iranian forces in Syria on the northern border and Hamas—that’s only getting stronger—in Gaza,” the education minister emphasized.
“The mindset over the past several decades has been—to avoid contact with an enemy … The enemy in turn interprets it as a fear of confrontation. The fact that we began to believe that there is no solution to the issue of terror is very dangerous. But there is something that could be done. There is a solution. When Israel decides it wants to win, we will win," he went on to say.
The 46 year old continued, saying that the position of defense minister represents much more to him than simply a political post.
"The defense minister’s role is to challenge the conventional way of thinking, to bring innovation, to come up with creative and surprising alternatives … The job of defense minister is to lead and not to be led," Bennett asserted.
"All of my advisers and friends told me, 'Why do you want it, it's a political suicide.’ They may be right, but they do not understand that for me, Israel's security is the end, and politics only the means,” the education minister emphasized.
Earlier, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri both urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call early elections in light Lieberman's resignation—who left the post due to his objections to the latest ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
"In the light of recent events, the right thing for Israel's citizens and its economy would be going to elections as soon as possible," Kahlon told the prime minister.
The finance minister (Kulanu) asserted that with the coalition having only a one-vote majority in the Knesset, the government would not be able to ensure stability, and therefore the responsible thing would be to form a new, strong and stable government. Kahlon said he was willing to lead the move in coordination with the rest of the coalition members.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas), who also met with the prime minister, echoed Kahlon's remarks, saying the heads of the coalition parties must agree on a date to hold elections as soon as possible.
"Going to elections would the best thing for Israel," he told Netanyahu.
Sources in United Torah Judaism said that Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman backs Education Minister Naftali Bennett's demand for the defense portfolio, believing the government should see out its days.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Lieberman explained the reason for his resignation, saying "Israel is buying short-term quiet, with the price being severe long-term damage to national security."
"It's no secret there have been disagreements between the prime minister and myself in recent months. I'll mention allowing in Qatari-funded fuel, which I thought was a mistake. It was only after the prime minister issued a written order that I had to allow the Qatari-funded fuel into the strip," he added.