Lapid and Bennett – a love story

Naftali believes that it’s time someone finally did something to take care of this country. So write this down: The new age of politics is winning so far. However, the game has just begun.

Lapid and Bennett at Knesset swear in 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Lapid and Bennett at Knesset swear in 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The only thing that I can do better than being foreign minister, says Yair Lapid, is to be chairman of the opposition. Lapid does not fear the opposition. In fact, the opposite might be true. If he were to join the government, it would be hard to meet expectations.
He has made promises, and now he would need to follow through with them. In Binyamin Netanyahu’s government, so far not one person has actually kept his or her promise (including Netanyahu himself).
With Netanyahu, it always ends the same way: Everyone is frustrated, their hopes dashed, not understanding how this happened to them, how Netanyahu did this to them, how time flew by and yet nothing progressed. In the opposition, on the other hand, Lapid believes he would blossom. And there is basis to this belief.
He’s ambitious, he knows how to use the media to his benefit, he is eloquent and he is headstrong. Lapid will accomplish with 19 seats what Tzipi Livni couldn’t with 28. He will make Netanyahu’s life miserable, and in the next election he will aim for the prime minister’s seat (as long as he abandons the complacency he has been showing since election day).
Yet we must not forget that we are in the midst of a game of psychological warfare. Over the next few weeks, we should expect a spectacular show of fireworks, stories that will cause wild explosions, one after another. A wild poker game in which everyone will try to cheat each other in an effort to neutralize, block, pressure and create the illusion that every connection between the game and reality is completely random.
The alliance is the basis of the current situation – the one between Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett. The one that is firm and alive, despite the fact that the haredim (ultra-Orthodox) are gritting their teeth and Netanyahu is wringing his hands.
This pact was not built upon one meeting between Lapid and Bennett, but from a series of gatherings. It began long before the election.
At the time, Bennett was in a bit of a panic. Polls were giving Netanyahu 36-37 seats, Lapid was breaking a sweat in an effort to reach double digits, and Netanyahu and Avigdor Liberman’s lives were looking more comfortable than ever.
Bennett was irrelevant. In desperation, Bennett decided that Lapid was his ticket into the coalition. They were both young, of the same generation, and understood the same concepts.
It was just a small kippa sitting on top of Bennett’s head that separated them, but not really. The chemistry between the two of them was immediate and all encompassing.
Lapid and Bennett are like brothers (until further notice). This was suitable for Lapid, too. Since he believes that the chance of reaching a permanent settlement with the Palestinians in the near future is not high, Bennett was the perfect ally. Lapid’s real goal is to solve the issue of the haredim who, according to him, are sucking the life out of Israel without giving anything in return. They are receiving without contributing.
Lapid believes that most of the middle class’s troubles come from this situation. The haredim must return to their correct size, they must leave the coalition, and disconnect themselves from the flow of nourishment they are receiving from the state. They must go outside to dry out. The dairy cow must be slaughtered.
And, oh yeah – they must be drafted into the Israel Defense Forces.
Following the election, this alliance was made official. The two of them sat together and formulated the wording. Without any paperwork or signed documents. This was the new style of politics, the two of them believed. No need for lawyers.
They gave each other their word. A pact is a pact. They came to an agreement on political issues.
Bennett’s red line was the evacuation of settlements. Except for this, he has no interest in political matters.
And what about outposts? Amona, for example. Lapid brought up the subject in a direct manner and Bennett dealt with it head-on. Bennett is committed to the rule of law. If the Supreme Court rules that an outpost should be dismantled, then apparently that’s what needs to be done. So they are unified on this subject.
However, this cannot be said about the draft issue. Bennett is not 100 percent in agreement with Lapid’s platform in this area. Bennett believes that the haredi population should be drafted – not in a blitz, but wisely. If too much force is used, it won’t work. It is preferable to use economic sanctions, to let them know that they will not receive even one shekel from the state if they don’t do their part.
Lapid is willing to be flexible on numbers. According to his platform, within five years there will be only 400 prodigies who will sit and learn Torah. All the rest will join the ranks of the IDF or will do national service.
Lapid knows that 400 is an unrealistic, draconian number. He would be willing to raise it to around 1,000, maybe even higher. This is a respectable number for a new induction group.
However, the draft issue will not keep Lapid and Bennett apart. They have agreed to disagree on this issue at this stage. When I checked again Thursday before Lapid’s meeting with Netanyahu, I found that the pact was still alive and kicking. The desperate attempts by the haredim (through national-religious rabbis) and by Netanyahu (through the many temptations he has placed before Bennett) to disband it, have not succeeded.
From Lapid’s camp I heard the following: Yair absolutely loves Naftali.
Period. They are friends and they trust each other. Yair gambled on Naftali and does not believe that their pact will be violated. And if it will be? Then Yair will stay in the opposition and will no longer trust Naftali. But he’s not worried.
And what about Naftali? Naftali absolutely loves Yair, too. Period. There is no way to separate the two.
Most of their goals are the same. Naftali believes that it’s time someone finally did something to take care of this country. So write this down: The new age of politics is winning so far. However, the game has just begun.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.