Naftali Bennett to not run in next elections, Shaked to head Yamina

"My brother Naftali, thank you, in my name and the name of all the people of Israel," said Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seen looking out of his office window. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seen looking out of his office window.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will not run in the upcoming Knesset elections, he announced Wednesday.

He also announced Wednesday evening that Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked would assume leadership of his Yamina Party after he resigns. On an upbeat note, he announced that there would be “important and happy news” soon concerning Israel’s future.

Bennett reiterated his commitment to arrange an orderly transition of power to the next prime minister Yair Lapid.

“The State of Israel is the love of my life. Serving it is my calling,” he said. “I am leaving after me a country that is flourishing, strong and safe.”

He mentioned the current quiet on the border with Gaza and his ability to work alongside partners with conflicting ideologies as his main achievements.

“We proved that people with different opinions can work together. No one needs to give up on his opinions, but it is definitely possible and even necessary to put aside, for the time being, ideological arguments, and take care of the economy, security and future of the State of Israel. We proved that there is a shared good,” he said.

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations mission to Israel, February 20, 2022.  (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations mission to Israel, February 20, 2022. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

He thanked his family and his fellow MKs, notably not mentioning recent defectors Idit Silman and Nir Orbach.

“Naftali Bennett is an Israeli patriot,” tweeted Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar after the announcement. “He was a good prime minister who filled the position in a stately manner. We worked with full cooperation for Israel and its citizens. I am convinced that he will return to serve the country in the future. Naftali, thank you and good luck!”

“My brother Naftali, thank you, in my name and the name of all the people of Israel,” tweeted Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

Yamina to get five seats if led by Shaked - poll

Following Bennett’s announcement, a poll by N12 News found that the Yamina Party would earn five seats if it is led by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked.

Additionally, the poll found that the Likud Party would earn 34 seats, Yesh Atid would earn 20 seats, Blue and White and the Religious Zionist Party would each earn nine seats, Shas eight and United Torah Judaism seven seats. The Joint List would take six, while the Labor Party and Yisrael Beytenu would earn five each. Ra’am, Meretz and New Hope would each past threshold with four seats.

The opposition bloc behind Benjamin Netanyahu would therefore have 58 seats without Yamina and 63 seats with it. The anti-Netanyahu bloc (excluding the Joint List) would have 56 seats with Yamina and 51 seats without it and without the Joint List.

The announcement came as the Knesset prepared to dissolve on Wednesday evening, with an election expected in late October or early November.

Bennett had been deliberating whether to run in the upcoming election. His Yamina faction is struggling in the polls, and beset by defections, the party list is uncertain.