Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaking at a conference of the Education Ministry.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)
In his first public appearance since the Gaza ceasefire, Naftali Bennett reiterated his ultimatum to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to appoint him as defense minister. Two days earlier, Avigdor Liberman resigned from his post as defense minister, throwing Netanyahu's coalition into a spiral of uncertainty.
Stopping short of explicitly saying that his Bayit Yehudi party will leave the coalition if he is not appointed, Bennett said that he wants to be appointed defense minister so Israel could go back to winning.
"There is something to do," Bennett said. "I told the prime minister yesterday to appoint me defense minister so Israel can back to winning."
"I will bring renewal and creativity to the role," he promised.
Bennett said that Israel finds itself in one of the most complex and dangerous times in its history.
A feeling of helplessness was spreading in Israel because Israel is incapable of winning in its military confrontations, Bennett claimed.
Referring to the unfortunate outcome that met all of his predecessors, should he actually become defense minister, Bennett said that he was not worried that he would meet the same fate. "Maybe they are right," Bennett admitted, "but politics is only the means... Security is not a role, it's a calling."
"Israel will return to win," he proclaimed.
If Bennett is not appointed defense minister, Bayit Yehudi will withdraw from the coalition. After losing Liberman's Yisrael Beytenu party, Netanyahu would be left with 56 seats in his government.
As a result, the government would most likely collapse and trigger early elections.Liberman quit
over the security cabinet's decision to negotiate a ceasefire with Hamas
. Bennett and Liberman have been jockeying for weeks over who is more hawkish on Gaza.
“I have tried to remain a faithful member of the cabinet and to make heard another view, even at a great electoral and political price,” Liberman said. However, Tuesday’s ceasefire with Hamas “cannot be interpreted in any way other than a capitulation to terrorism."
The dramatic unraveling of the government was set off by a botched IDF operation that took place last Sunday night. After killing six Hamas terrorists, Hamas retaliated by shooting more than 460 rockets at the south of Israel.
Liberman, Bennett, Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked opposed the ceasefire. Many residents in the South protested,
hoping for a harsher policy toward Gaza.
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