Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a point of keeping his agreement with the United Nations, Interior Minister Arye Deri, and countries around the world about Israel’s migrant workers a secret.
He did not seek its approval in the cabinet, the security cabinet, or the forum of coalition party leaders before announcing it in a hastily called press conference. He double-checked the agreement’s legality with Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit but left Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked in the dark.There was a reason for not informing Shaked. She is the political partner of Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, Netanyahu’s rival on the Right. Netanyahu knew that once Bennett heard about the agreement, he would get the Right to rise up in anger.But Netanyahu apparently did not know how much the Right would be impacted by Bennett’s pronouncement that the agreement was a “surrender” and would make Israel a “paradise for migrants.”It led to criticism from Kulanu head Moshe Kahlon, top activists in the Likud central committee, and ministers who are loyal to Netanyahu in the Likud, such as Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev.Even Netanyahu’s former No. 2 in the Likud, former interior minister Gideon Sa’ar, who had made a point of not criticizing the prime minister since he began his political comeback exactly a year ago – even when encouraged to do so by journalists – called the plan a severe mistake.Several hours after Netanyahu’s dramatic press conference, he went from what Bennett called surrendering to surrendering to Bennett.This was not the first time the former King Bibi gave into his political protégé and former chief of staff, who will be speaking at The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on April 29.Just last month, Bennett succeeded in rallying other coalition partners to oppose the prime minister’s plan to advance the next election. If Netanyahu wanted the election in June, when it could suit him best politically and legally, Bennett obtained a majority for holding it in October, by which time Mandelblit could decide on an indictment of the prime minister.Netanyahu also changed his tune on the so-called “Hebron shooter” Elor Azaria after he was outflanked by Bennett on the Right.So now Netanyahu has already met with south Tel Aviv residents about the migrants, and he might have to meet with his cabinet as well.He will do that in his capacity as prime minister, but Bennett has proven he may have a share in that title as well.
Israel says to send 16,000 African migrants to Western countries, April 2, 2018 (Reuters)