Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett posted on his Facebook page Sunday his first statement since the round of fighting in the Gaza Strip began. “He who drags the country to a fifth election is playing into the hands of those who wish us harm,” he argued, in a thinly-veiled reference to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At the same time, Bennett also stated that “There are several options to form a government, the boycotts need to be removed,” suggesting that Netanyahu should not be excluded from the coalition choices of right-wing leaders such as Gideon Sa’ar.
Here’s the full translation of Bennett’s post. It’s rather angry:
Citizens of Israel,
During the fighting, I refrained from speaking out against the government and sharing my advice in the studios and on Facebook while the soldiers and police endangered their lives on the ground.
Hamas and critics of Israel in the West played in front of an empty goal in the soccer field of hasbara, and I mobilized to contribute, if only somewhat, on this front (a reference to his practically round-the-clock appearances on foreign channels – DI).
At the end of the fighting, when it’s clear that we have not finished the job, and that the fronts are still not quiet—neither in Gaza nor in Jerusalem nor inside Israel—I want to share with you the way I see things.
I do not recall such a time of weakness, dysfunction, and national embarrassment.
Seemingly, there’s nothing to be surprised about.
The writing was on the wall.
For a whole year, during the pandemic, we looked on desperately and protested against a government that simply did not function.
Not in managing the crisis, not in the area of education.
The same symptoms that we preferred to suppress and forget were evident: Netanyahu appoints mediocre people, who in turn appoint mediocre people.
The decision-making process is crooked.
It is dictated by personal and political considerations.
And all this while creating a smokescreen of a cult of personality around the leader, where anyone who dares to criticize him is attacked severely.
In recent weeks and days, there’s not one citizen hasn’t felt distressed by the state of the country.
Terrorist shooting at residents of Lod, Akko, Beer Sheva, and the Galilee. Humiliated policemen on the Temple Mount, Hamas victory celebrations in Gaza and inside Israeli cities.
Even Netanyahu’s most ardent supporters are beginning to understand that admiring the leader at all costs is not a substitute for policy.
That their and their families’ personal security has deteriorated to an unbearable level.
That the state’s deterrence – in the face of a group of terrorists in Gaza and the face of armed gangs inside Israel – is at its lowest point in her history.
Government ministers are busy day and night with politics and are avoiding the tough moments.
They possess all the power, with zero responsibility. Including after the disaster of negligence in Meron.
This government is busy day and night with self-patting on the back, and throwing the responsibility for the failures on the people they themselves have appointed.
The logic that guides this government is to postpone the treatment of the problem, any problem, until the moment it explodes in our faces.
And so they pushed off from one year to another, one ceasefire to another, the treatment of the intensification of Hamas and Hezbollah, which have turned from terrorist organizations into real armies with a rocket array of 150,000 weapons aimed at every city in Israel.
It is no coincidence that our enemies are raising their heads right now.
Our inner split and self-destruction weaken us. When the enemy recognizes a weakness, it attacks.
We have had two and a half years of endless elections with no outcome.
Even now, there’s no budget for the State of Israel (!).
Politicians play a bunker strategy, live from one poll to the next, and refuse to acknowledge that this is an emergency.
But it’s not just politicians.
Parts of the public have also become addicted to the tribal approach of us versus them.
I do not lose hope of reminding all of us who the real enemy is.
The enemy is not Bibi, he is not the left.
The enemy is Hamas, which seeks to destroy us.
This is not the time to cling to boycotts, this is the time to do the right thing and form a functioning government.
The challenges are enormous.
Restoring governance to the streets in Israel and deterring the enemy are not easy tasks.
This is a challenge that will require all our strength.
The police will need resources and public backing for the bold action of clearing Israel of gangs of armed terrorists.
The army will need by its side at a determined political echelon that realizes that our approach to Hamas must be changed, even at difficult costs.
Calming the internal hostility will require moral leadership, mobilizing all the good forces in the nation.
There are two choices: enlistment in support of change or deepening the crisis.
Whoever drags the country to a fifth election, to more poison and hatred, to another year of state dysfunction, to a huge waste of money – is playing into the hands of those who want to do us harm.
That would be one mistake too many.
It is the time for each and every one of us to strive, to enlist.
Even today, there are several options for forming a government, if we just remove the boycotts and understand the magnitude of the moment.
Politicians will not recover from their stupor until the citizens force them to recover.
Now is the time to build and repair, not to deepen the rift.