Bennett, Netanyahu spar over Gaza violence

MK Idit Silman says coalition's hourglass is ticking.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in a press conference on January 11, 2022 (photo credit: NOAM RIVKIN-PANTON/FLASH90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in a press conference on January 11, 2022
(photo credit: NOAM RIVKIN-PANTON/FLASH90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu exchanged verbal blows on Tuesday over who did a better job maintaining security.

Bennett jabbed at Netanyahu on Twitter that “when you were in power, terrorists fired more than 13,000 rockets, carried out 1,500 attacks, burned 45,000 dunams of agricultural land, murdered 238 Israelis, and wounded 1,700 while you continued transferring money to Hamas in suitcases. You failed against Hamas, and we are fixing it.”

The Likud countered by posting that the peace in the south was the result of Operation Guardians of the Wall that Netanyahu initiated.

The Likud added that part of the time that Netanyahu was in power, his defense minister was Bennett, and at other times, Bennett was in his security cabinet.

“Time is up for your government of weakness,” the Likud said. “Start packing.”

 Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a rally in Jerusalem last week. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a rally in Jerusalem last week. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Bennett’s attack on Netanyahu was seen as an overture from Bennett toward right-wing MKs in his coalition, who are under pressure to follow the lead of former coalition head Idit Silman and bolt the government.

Silman made high-profile visits on Tuesday with Religious Zionist Party MK Itamar Ben-Gvir to the evacuated settlement Homesh in northern Samaria, and to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Silman also held meetings with key rabbis and told them the coalition is nearing its end.

“Everyone understands that the hourglass has turned and time is running out,” she said, according to the religious Zionist website Srugim. “Even if it takes another few days, whoever doesn’t join me on time will miss out. The rabbis understand that the reality has changed and that I am the one who changed it, I believe for the better.”

Silman, who praised the coalition until she left it two weeks ago, said it was wrong that the coalition’s fate is in the hands of the Islamic Shura Council of the Ra’am (United Arab List) Party.

Ra’am presented Bennett with a list of demands on Monday for remaining in the coalition. The list includes maintaining the status quo on the Aqsa Mosque and other holy sites; implementing economic plans in the Arab sector within a year; recognizing the unauthorized Bedouin villages; and gathering illegal weapons there.

Former finance minister Israel Katz (Likud) responded that the list proved that Bennett was like an onion whose layers are being removed one by one.

“This dangerous farce must end, and an agreed-upon date for an election must be set,” Katz said.