Netanyahu to Bennett: Everyone around you jumping from your gov't, like Titanic

"Everyone around you is jumping from the deck of the Titanic," opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu told Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, adding that there is no unity in the coalition.

 Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu gestures at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on May 16, 2022. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu gestures at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on May 16, 2022.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his predecessor, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, exchanged barbs on Monday in a special session of the Knesset with the prime minister that was called for by the opposition.

In his address, Bennett said his government had repaired serious problems that Netanyahu had left in his wake.

“There were 13,000 missiles fired at Israel, and you didn’t do anything,” he shouted at Netanyahu. “The vision of the government is providing the citizens of Israel work and a livelihood. The vision of the opposition is elections, elections and more elections.”

Netanyahu then mocked Bennett for the departures of two former confidantes, former coalition chairwoman Idit Silman and former diplomatic adviser Shimrit Meir.

“Everyone around you is jumping from the deck of the Titanic,” he said.

 Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett gestures at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on May 16, 2022. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett gestures at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on May 16, 2022. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

There was neither unity nor right-wingers in Bennett’s coalition, Netanyahu said.

“Bennett calling this a unity government is like a camel who doesn’t see its hump,” he said. “There is no Right in this government. There is only fake Right. This government of trickery has reached the end of its path. Israel needs a strong and stable nationalist government.”

Netanyahu’s Likud decided on Monday to reject overtures from the coalition to cooperate in passing legislation that both sides support. After a fight within the Likud faction, the MKs decided to consider making an exception for a bill that would provide scholarships to soldiers completing their IDF service.

The Likud’s decision was a blow to the coalition, which was employing a new strategy in an effort to remain afloat. The coalition had been advancing opposition bills in the hope that the Likud would return the favor.

Another part of the coalition’s strategy that was dealt a blow was to count on Silman remaining neutral, as she was in a vote on Bennett’s policy statement to the Knesset plenum on Monday that passed 60-59 when she did not vote.

Bennett told Silman to leave Monday’s Yamina faction meeting after she declined to say whether she would vote to reinstate MK Matan Kahana as religious services minister. When Bennett asked Silman, her only response was, “We will talk about it.”

Silman has been careful to continue attending Yamina faction meetings and not vote against the government because she does not want to be declared a defector and thereby be prevented from running with Likud in the next election.

But sources who spoke to Silman said she wanted to vote against the reinstatement of Kahana, who quit the cabinet to return to the Knesset and must be reappointed to be both a minister and an MK. Kahana was officially appointed deputy religious services minister by the cabinet on Monday.

Yamina officials said Silman has been sabotaging Yamina faction meetings by attending, upsetting her former colleagues, who are unable to speak when she is around. Bennett is considering attempting to have her declared a defector immediately after not supporting the reappointment of Kahana.