Bennett confirmed as defense minister; Galant: Does not serve security of state
Move by Netanyahu sees New Right unite with Likud faction until end of current Knesset; Likud minister and former top IDF officer is sole dissenting voice; Blue and White calls decision 'cynical' bid by prime minister to thwart New Right supporting Gantz
New Right leader Naftali Bennett was confirmed Sunday as the new defense minister, taking the portfolio from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and cementing his party's union with the Likud.
The sole dissenting voice in the current government came from Likud minister Yoav Galant, a former senior officer in the IDF, who said that the move would not increase Israel's security situation.
"Israel is in a complex and sensitive period of security," Galant said before Bennett was confirmed. "This appointment does not serve the security of the state and therefore I will vote against it."
Announcing the appointment Friday, Likud said that the offer was made during a meeting between Netanyahu and Bennett at the Prime Minister's Office.
The two also agreed that Likud and New Right would immediately form a joint faction in the Knesset and commit to acting in lock-step until the end of the current parliament.
Bennett, who previously served as Netanyahu's education minister and Diaspora affairs minister, also reportedly agreed that if a solution to the current political deadlock is found and a new government established, he would be replaced as minister.
Bennett's partner in the leadership of the New Right, former justice minister Ayelet Shaked, did not receive a ministerial position as part of the agreement.
Blue and White officials also strongly criticized the decision to appoint Bennett, labeling it "inappropriate" and a "cynical appointment" to prevent New Right from joining a government led by Benny Gantz.
"“As usual with Netanyahu the cynical appointment of Bennett was done out of narrow political and personal interests," the party said.
Bennett on Sunday vowed to work for the security of the state.
"Out of a deep sense of responsibility for the security of the State of Israel, I responded Friday to Prime Minister Netanyahu's request to serve as defense minister," Bennett said in a statement released after his confirmation Sunday.
"I have full confidence in the defense establishment, IDF fighters and commanders led by Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi," he said.
"I have fought for Israel's security my entire life, in all my positions - in Sayeret Matkal, the Maglan Unit, the Security Cabinet and every public office," said Bennett.
"I thank Prime Minister Netanyahu for his confidence in me. I will work alongside him for the security of the State of Israel."