Naftali Bennett and MK Rafi Peretz at a ceremony at the education ministry.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Outgoing Education Minister Naftali Bennett called for the September election to be canceled, saying that the ongoing political campaigning and tenure of a temporary government was shutting down the country.
Bennett, whose New Right Party narrowly failed to make it into the Knesset in the April elections, was speaking at a ceremony at the Education Ministry marking his exit, and the beginning of Bayit Yehudi leader Rabbi Rafi Peretz’s tenure as the new minister.
“Politicians in Israel have become disconnected, they have lost their connection to the public,” said Bennett at the ceremony at the Education Ministry in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning. “I call from here to the political system – cancel these elections now. Just cancel these unnecessary elections now.”
The outgoing education minister said that the Israeli public wanted “quiet,” and for the state agencies to “return to function for the public” instead of the public serving the politicians.
“There is an increasing collapse, and we are facing a collapse of trust in the agencies of the state,” said Bennett.
The failure to form a new government after the last election was seen as a lifeline for Bennett to bring his new party and his political career back from the dead, since it has given him a second chance to get back into the Knesset.
But Bennett said that even though another election could be for him “like winning the lottery,” it was still better for the country to halt the new poll.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has in recent days sought a way to halt the new election and try again to form a government in the current Knesset, although he has denied offering Blue and White leader Benny Gantz a prime ministerial rotation agreement as a way of stopping the scheduled poll in September.
Peretz for his part warmly praised Bennett’s work at the education ministry, saying that he had made progress in improving education in math, English and science, something he said he would seek to build on.
The incoming minister alluded to Bennett’s service in the IDF’s elite Sayeret Matkal unit and his own service in the air force, saying that the Sayeret Matkal identifies the target and the air force hits them.
Peretz’s warm words for Bennett take on extra significance given the ongoing calls from Peretz himself and others on the religious-right for unity among the small right-wing parties, especially in light of the relatively cold shoulder Peretz has given to the far-right Otzma Yehudit party.
The Bayit Yehudi leader also addressed criticism that has been leveled at him and at Bennett for the “religiousificiation” of the education system under the leadership of religious ministers, and called to leave such concepts in the past.
“Let’s talk about values, on Jewish heritage, and the connection to history of our amazing people,” said Peretz. “We have a strong army, a strong economy, an excellent state, but everyone knows that it is the spirit which triumphs. We obtain the Israeli spirit through connecting to the ideals and values upon which this wonderful country were established.”
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