Netanyahu and Bennett.
(photo credit: REUTERS,MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s showdown with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will come to a test Sunday afternoon at a scheduled meeting of the Security Cabinet. Expectations are that Netanyahu and Bennett will try to reach a compromise before the meeting although there is concern that Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked will skip the meeting to send a defiant message to Netanyahu.
Last week, Bennett said his Bayit Yehudi party will not vote in favor of Avigdor Liberman’s appointment as defense minister if Netanyahu does not appoint a military secretary to the Security Cabinet, in order to better facilitate communications between the defense establishment and ministers in the Security Cabinet.
Bennett remained defiant on Sunday, telling associates that he planned to “go all the way” with his ultimatum to Netanyahu.
“Our demand is simple and dramatic – that the commander of the IDF and the chief of staff, the Security Cabinet, which is the body that makes the fateful decisions regarding life death, stop being blind,” Bennett posted on Facebook early Sunday. “Today, it is blind out of choice.”
An initial vote on Liberman’s appointment is expected at some point Sunday within the government, whose ministers will need to approve the appointment before the new coalition is brought to the Knesset for approval on Monday. Netanyahu has threatened to fire Bennett, Shaked and Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel if they oppose Liberman’s appointment as defense minister in the Sunday government vote.
Bennett’s call came after portions of the State Comptroller’s report on 2014’s Operation Protective Edge leaked, which were critical of the Netanyahu and then-defense minister Moshe Ya’alon for insufficiently informing ministers of what was happening. The Winograd Report following the 2006 Second Lebanon War also called for Security Cabinet members to be better informed.
On Friday, Netanyahu announced that he intends to constitute a special committee tasked with devising recommendations on how to improve the way Security Cabinet ministers receive information on national security matters. The team will be led by former head of the National Security Council Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror and joined by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yohanan Locker and Joseph Ciechanover, who has served as legal counsel for the Defense and Foreign Ministries.
Bennett, however, rejected the compromise, which Netanyahu announced to the public without informing him.
“No spin by the prime minister will save lives, and certainly not another meaningless committee of the kind he forms from time to time,” Bayit Yehudi’s spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman referred to the panel Locker led on the defense budget, which recommended in 2015 ways to make the IDF more efficient, while gradually growing its budget over the years, pointing out that it still has not been discussed in the security cabinet nor implemented.
"We suggest that, instead of dealing in petty politics and briefings against the Bayit Yehudi all day, the prime minister simply open the [comptroller’s] report on Protective Edge, where he will see findings written in blood that are screaming to be implemented.”
She added: “Neutralizing the cabinet is a clear and present danger, and no spin will cover up our demand, which still stands, to fix the failures of Protective Edge and fix the Security Cabinet