In first since becoming PM, Bennett to visit W. Bank settlement

Gantz complained to Bennett behind closed doors at Sunday’s cabinet meeting for not giving him credit for the government remaining intact.

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks in the Knesset plenum on May 11, 2022. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks in the Knesset plenum on May 11, 2022.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will visit Elkana in Samaria on Tuesday, his first public visit to a West Bank settlement since becoming prime minister 11 months ago.

Bennett will participate in celebrations commemorating 45 years since the founding of Elkana, which is considered among the most moderate settlements.

That the visit was announced immediately after Bennett’s foreign-policy adviser=r Shimrit Meir’s resignation was not coincidental, sources in Yamina said. Meir was against taking rightward steps, while Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) and Bennett advisers Tal Gan-Zvi and Shalom Shlomo have been pushing him to go to Judea and Samaria, they said.

More right-wing steps will soon follow, the sources in Yamina said. That could complicate his relationship with Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White), who will be making key decisions soon on the fate of unauthorized outposts, including Homesh.

Gantz complained to Bennett behind closed doors at Sunday’s cabinet meeting for not giving him credit for the government remaining intact when the prime minister spoke before the cameras at the start of the meeting.

 PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett sits in the Knesset this week.  (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett sits in the Knesset this week. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

“Many people deserve credit for the work of this government,” Gantz said. “You spoke only about me, me and me. I am in the room, and you make reference to me as if I am [just] the welfare minister. You needed to remember me when the cameras were rolling.”

In response, Bennett said he had given credit to Gantz

in a Facebook post. Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) complained that Gantz had mocked the post.

There has been a feud between Bennett and Gantz since Operation Protective Edge in 2014, during which Bennett, who was a cabinet minister, criticized the passivity of Gantz, who was IDF chief of staff. During the last election campaign, Bennett called the prospects of Gantz becoming prime minister “the wet dream of Hamas.”

In the current government, Gantz criticized Bennett for publicizing Mossad operations, and Bennett criticized Gantz for meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel could not return to holding endless elections and to political paralysis, Bennett said earlier in the cabinet meeting. He said his coalition has proven over the past 11 months that it is possible for such a diverse government to work together. He vowed to pass the state budget next month.

“We are tightening our ranks to continue economic growth and maintain the government,” Bennett said regarding his decision to have his loyalist, Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana (Yamina), quit the cabinet and return to the Knesset.

Bennett praised Yamina MK Yomtob Kalfon, who is leaving the Knesset to make way for Kahana’s return.In an effort to build relations with MKs in the opposition, the coalition passed six opposition bills and only one coalition bill in Sunday’s meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation.Tal Spungin contributed to this report. 

Tal Spungin contributed to this report.