Unity begins at home with the establishment of a right-wing government

Netanyahu rightfully calls upon authorities to respect the will of the people who voted for him. Those voters were also assured Bennett’s party would part of the government.

MK NAFTALI BENNETT – nine mandates if he’s lucky. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
MK NAFTALI BENNETT – nine mandates if he’s lucky.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
After the Tisha Be’av soul searching and a Tu Be’av reminiscing, it’s time to state the obvious: Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett are not the best of buddies. One may even detest the other.
So what? Who cares? Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres thought the worst of each other. David Ben-Gurion refused to call Menachem Begin by name, and there was no love lost between Ariel Sharon and Netanyahu. Nevertheless, they knew how to work together in times of crisis when the nation needed it most.
Now is one of those times.
Israel and most of the world are in the midst of an ongoing health and economic crisis seldom seen before. COVID-19 has claimed more than 700,000 lives and wreaked economic mayhem of world order-changing proportions. People have taken to the streets.
But the demonstrations and riots in Israel appear to have little or nothing to do with the crisis or its management. The organizers don’t seem to suggest how the crisis could be better managed. Some even consider it to be a hoax.
However, most demonstrators and rioters in Israel do have one strong common denominator: They all want to remove Netanyahu from office, at almost any cost, despite the election results and the unanimous Supreme Court ruling concerning permissibility of premiership in Netanyahu’s favor.
Many demonstrators are misled to believe that if they protest long and hard enough, Netanyahu will walk away, like Begin did. That won’t happen.
Bennett knows better than that and has, to date, wisely refrained from jumping on the demonstration bandwagon.
Unlike most severe international crises caused by prolonged multilateral wars or systemic economic crashes, there is a degree of certainty concerning the end point and how things will look thereafter. Once a vaccine becomes available, the number of related deaths will decrease drastically and the economy will start growing steadily.
US–China relations will probably never be the same. Unchecked globalization will become obsolete for decades to come. People and places will be cleaner. There may be more babies and unfortunately less elderly.
We will do business differently. There will be more remote communication and commerce. Mega cities may become less congested, and commercial real estate will transform to residential living space. With patience and over time, people will adapt, and economies will grow – perhaps more dramatically than predicted.
The race for a vaccine is approaching the finish line in Oxford, Bethesda, Ness Ziona and elsewhere. It might take months, but it is approaching, and when it arrives there will be relief. Until then, we need to adhere to social distancing and act sensibly.
Most sound people understand this, but in Israel the economic downturn and demonstrators have hijacked public discourse, replacing long-term debates and vital issues from the national agenda.
Israel’s call for sovereignty is such an issue.
Aside from preventing a nuclear Iran, this is the issue of our time and for generations to come. There has never been a better time, and it is doubtful if there will be such an opportune moment in the foreseeable future for Israel to rightfully extend its sovereignty over the Jordan valley, the Jewish settlements and barren land in Judea and Samaria. Never has Israel had a more welcoming president in the White House, and no other issue has been of greater national consensus. This can change after the November elections in the United States.
A GOVERNMENT of more than 35 ministers was formed a few months ago for two key reasons: to confront the coronavirus with consensus and to facilitate Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley. Those issues were of broad agreement during the last elections. That is the only reason that Benjamin Gantz’s party has the same number of ministers as the Likud, despite being half its size.
The working assumption was that Gantz had the will and ability to convince large parts of the left-leaning public in favor of sovereignty and the necessity of COVID-19-related precautions and limitations. The only reason former Maj.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, with no diplomatic experience, was appointed foreign minister, was due to his explicit support of the said sovereignty and his apparent ability to strengthen national and perhaps international consensus around the initiative.
Those working assumptions have proven to be flawed. Therefore, another obvious observation is that this oversized government and the good intentions it may have been founded on are now void. It is not working. Gantz and Ashkenazi are backtracking their support for sovereignty and the corona crisis is not being managed better now than during the first wave.
Effectiveness was replaced with endless debates and debacles, leaving no rationale for maintaining this government.
Netanyahu often and rightfully calls upon the Left and the legal establishment to respect the will of the people who voted for him time and again, despite the controversies and allegations raised against the prime minister prior to the elections. Those voters are the same voters who were assured Bennett’s party would part of the government.
Naftali “I told you so” Bennett can be vexing to some, and may be difficult to work with in total harmony. However, he has usually proven to be correct. Most of Bennett’s ideas were on the money and should have been adopted in real-time and not only with the benefit of hindsight.
Bennett can’t really garner 15 mandates like some polls predict. He knows that. He knows that no one from the Left who supports him today will vote for him tomorrow. They are just applauding the trash talk against Netanyahu. Bennett has five mandates that might grow to nine if he’s lucky.
Those 5-9 mandates consist of the best people Israel has to offer. They are the ones who go to reserve duty; work in hi-tech, agriculture and academia; are pioneers; and the ones who pay taxes. Lots of taxes. They believe in God and country but have been taken for granted for too long.
For the sake of unity and sovereignty, Netanyahu should offer Naftali Bennett and the ministers who support him portfolios and influence that respect the nine mandates he represents before unnecessary elections. After may be too late.
A lot has happened since Bennett named his first-born Yoni and made a point of quoting Netanyahu in almost every meaningful speech he delivered. But there is one significant common denominator between Netanyahu and Bennett: Israel’s sovereignty.
Gantz and Ashkenazi, in contrast, have done everything they can to cancel its implementation. Netanyahu and Bennett should do everything possible to assure sovereignty is executed before November.
The time has come to form a small and smart government with a common cause and vision; a government that sees sovereignty as a vision attainable today.
The writer is a founder of Acumen Risk Ltd. and the author of Targeted Killings, Law and Counter-Terrorism Effectiveness: Does Fair Play Pay Off?