Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prevented then-defense minister Naftali Bennett from implementing his plans to prevent the coronavirus crisis during the first wave in Israel, because he feared a minister under him would succeed, Bennett said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
Speaking at an event for the Tel Aviv International Salon, Bennett recalled that in March 2020, after the first coronavirus cases were diagnosed in Israel, he came out with plans for testing and for Ben-Gurion Airport, but Netanyahu ignored the plans.
“I think he is afraid of me,” Bennett said. “That’s not a good way to run things. I always empower people. You thrive by empowering people, not killing them.”
Bennett accused Netanyahu of having “the worst government in Israel’s history” and regarding the coronavirus, “a colossal failure of management, innovation and execution.”
The International Criminal Court’s announcement that it is investigating alleged war crimes by Israel is also Netanyahu’s fault, Bennett charged.
“When the Palestinians went to the International Criminal Court, Netanyahu didn’t do anything,” he lamented. “Netanyahu is very passive. He procrastinates on key issues.”
Bennett recalled that Netanyahu repeatedly cited the threat of an ICC probe as a reason to not take action in Israel’s interests, and nevertheless, the ICC took action against the Jewish state.
“The prime minister didn’t annex and said we can’t dismantle the illegal Khan al-Ahmar encampment because of the ICC, and then they decided against us anyway,” he said. “I would divorce and decouple the issues. We have to do what’s right for Israel. We have to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, which would be an unmitigated disaster for Israel. It would be the end of us.”
Bennett said the ICC is “an antisemitic, irrational organ out to harm Israel under the false pretense of international law.”
He said the court is “trying to tie our hands so we won’t be able to fight and defend ourselves, so the solution was to keep fighting and defend ourselves as if they don’t exist.”
Regarding how to help English-speaking immigrants to Israel, Bennett noted that his parents moved to Israel from California, so he said he understood the Anglo community.
“It’s not that Anglos need a unique approach,” he said. “All they need is a fair opportunity. I won’t do affirmative action for Anglos. I want Israel to be a meritocracy.”