Can Bennett overcome his latest predicament? - analysis

Like in battle, plenty of mistakes are made in politics, but errors can be avoided with proper leadership.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on May 8, 2022. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on May 8, 2022.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

When he commanded forces in the IDF’s elite General Staff Reconnaissance Unit and Maglan units, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett often had to persuade his soldiers to risk their lives for military maneuvers that did not make logical sense to them.

There are those who have described Bennett’s current political challenge as insurmountable. He has to try to stay in power without a majority in the Knesset, balancing Israel’s most diverse coalition ever and the contradicting interests, demands and ultimatums of MKs across the political spectrum who are under tremendous pressure to bring him down.

But Bennett’s current political challenge is arguably easier than what he endured in the military, because he now has to get his troops in the coalition to do what actually makes sense for each of them.

It doesn’t make sense for any of them to go to an election. It is very unlikely that any of them will end up in a better position personally than they are in now if Israel goes to an election in the fall after a hot summer full of dirty political campaigning.

None of them want to bring opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu back to power. It is debatable whether any of them would prefer a new Likud leader as prime minister over Bennett even if it was possible.

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the security cabinet at the Knesset, May 8, 2022.  (credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO) Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the security cabinet at the Knesset, May 8, 2022. (credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)

Wavering coalition MKs on the Right, such as Yamina faction head Nir Orbach, do not have an interest in bringing down Bennett and crowning Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid as caretaker prime minister during an election.

Rebellious Ra’am (United Arab List) MKs Waleed Taha and Mazen Ghanaim do not have an interest in either allowing Bennett to stay caretaker prime minister and prevent his rotation with Lapid or in enabling the Likud to form a government with the Religious Zionist Party MKs who hate them.

Bringing down the current government would undermine the entire experiment of having an Arab party in a governing coalition, cancel more unprecedented allocations to the Arab sector in next year’s state budget and perhaps condemn Arab society to decades of unnecessary poverty.

Like in battle, plenty of mistakes are made in politics, but errors can be avoided with proper leadership.

The weeks ahead are the ultimate test of Bennett’s leadership.

If he succeeds, he can at least keep his coalition together until the next Knesset recess begins at the end of July. The Knesset would only return after the High Holy Days in the fall, and elections this year would be avoided.

If he fails and Lapid becomes caretaker prime minister, as the coalition agreement says, Bennett could end up demoted to interior minister, or he could quit politics in a matter of weeks.

The ultimate battle of Bennett’s political career begins Monday, and he cannot afford to lose.