By Michael Bachner/TPS
Jerusalem (TPS) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to expand the government and add Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party to the coalition were challenged on Monday afternoon after Education Minister Naftali Bennett said he would not support the measure should his list of demands not be met.
Bennett, who leads the Jewish Home party in the Knesset, demanded during a party meeting that the prime minister solve the issues affecting the way the security cabinet operates before the changes in the government are implemented. Bennett’s party officially approved the demand during the meeting.
The problems in the security cabinet were revealed as part of the lessons learned from Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in the summer of 2014 and from the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
Bennett said during the party meeting that “the Winograd Committee investigated the handling of the Second Lebanon War and concluded that quality intelligence information was not shared with the members of the security cabinet and that the members were not adequately trained for their position and therefore did not function well at the moment of truth. Ten years have gone by and nothing has been done.”
“I have approached the prime minister many times during the last two-and-a-half years with this demand, including during the coalition negotiations,” added Bennett. “Unfortunately, nothing has been done. This is why I informed the prime minister of the demand yesterday evening in order to implement the plan and solve the issues.”
The plan includes attaching the security cabinet members with a military secretary who would deliver ongoing security updates and would prepare them for their position. The plan would also increase the number of tours done in the field and give the ministers better access to the information.
“Fixing the problems in the security cabinet is necessary for Israel’s security and for saving the lives of its civilians and soldiers,” added Bennett. “Israel paid a high price for the existence of these problems during the Second Lebanon War and Operation Protective Edge. My approval of the changes in the government is conditional on the fulfillment of my demands.”
Likud MK Yariv Levin, head of the party’s parliamentary negotiations team, responded to Bennett’s statements by saying that the Likud “will not renegotiate opening the coalition agreement with any partner, including with the Jewish Home.” He added that Bennett’s demand “damages the ability to complete the expansion of the government.”