Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Chief of Staff Tal Gan-Zvi has asked to end his stint in the coming weeks, Israeli media reported Monday morning. Gan-Zvi, 41, has served for the past decade as Bennett’s chief of staff at the Ministry of Economy and later at the Education Ministry, and consulted him in his election campaigns and the subsequent coalition negotiations. Bennett thanked Gan-Zvi for his dedicated work over the years, calling him “one of the central pillars of my public work, at all the various stations.”
Gan-Zvi’s resignation follows that of Bennett’s political adviser, Shimrit Meir, who announced her departure some ten days ago. During Bennett’s short tenure as PM, Gan-Zvi marked the right-wing and Meir the left-wing in his staff, and the two made each other’s lives stressful, to use a polite adjective, but now, with both of them abandoning him, Bennett finds himself alone in the midst of the fight of his life.
As Bennett’s right-wing man, Gan-Zvi kept the PM’s connection to his voters’ base, which has been eroding at an alarming rate over the past year. It was Gan-Zvi whose phone calls were still picked up by key people at the religious public school system and the settlements. Even more crucial: it was Gan-Zvi who has been stopping MK Nir Orbach from quitting the Yamina faction. Orbach himself said so. Now the barn doors have been left open and Orbach, as well as Bennett’s long-time ally, Interior Minister, Ayelet Shakedת and his most recent ally, Abir Kara, could be on their way out.
Gan-Zvi recently told people close to him that the last goal he had left was to get the Judea and Samaria construction plans approved – and that happened some two weeks ago, a move that caused a great deal of irritation in the Biden administration, but which Lapid and Bennett’s left-wing partners considered an acceptable cost if it meant preserving coalition integrity. They may need to re-think that one. Sunday night, Gan-Zvi informed Bennett yesterday of his intention to quit and then drove off to celebrate his 41st birthday with family and friends.
Gan-Zvi is leaving Bennet in a harsh political turmoil in which the PM could use some sage advice. There are the concessions worth billions of shekels to the Islamist MKs in exchange for their continued support for the government. On Sunday, Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid met with Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi who demanded and received even more money for Israeli Arabs.
Add to that next Sunday’s flags march on Jerusalem Liberation Day, which is under attack by the Arabs and the leftists inside Bennett’s coalition, who strangely appear to support the Hamas position on Jews daring to walk through Damascus gate waving Israeli flags.
Finally, Bennett’s government secretariat may have stuck the final knife in the PM’s already densely perforated back when it attacked a Sunday court ruling that Jews do not commit a crime when they say the Shema Israel and bow on the Temple Mount. Bennett’s representatives announced the state would challenge this ruling, doing away with whatever remained of Bennett’s credibility with his national-religious voters.
At this point, Naftali Bennett is the proverbial cowboy lying in the wreckage the day after a saloon brawl only to realize he is the last man left in Dodge.