Bennett announces retirement from politics – for now

“I was concerned as prime minister for all Israelis, regardless of who they voted for,” the outgoing prime minister said.

By Gil Tanenbaum, TPS

Outgoing Prime Minister of Israel Naftali Bennett addressed the nation Wednesday night on all of the country’s broadcast channels to announce his intention to quit politics as soon as new elections are held. Bennett will not seek reelection to the Knesset.

The Knesset is expected to vote to dissolve itself and call for new elections sometime Wednesday night.

In attendance were Bennett’s wife, who cried throughout the speech, and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who is now expected to assume the leadership of Bennett’s Yamina Party.

None of the leaders of the coalition parties, not even the soon-to-be interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid, was present.

Bennett basically reiterated some of the same themes that he has spoken about in public over the past few days. This included his promise to do all to aid Yair Lapid in leading the country once he becomes the new prime minister.

“I will continue to aid him as alternate premiere as much as needed,” said Bennett. “As I have always served as a soldier, an officer and as your prime minister.”

Bennett went on to declare that the outgoing coalition government succeeded more in one year under his leadership in ways that no government that served even a full term has ever done.

“We brought quiet to the south not seen in years,” he said.

“We overcame 2 waves of Covid without any closures.”

He also took credit for getting Israelis back to work with low unemployment rates.

However, the improved economy was to be expected once the Covid crisis subsided, and there were no need for coronavirus closures under Bennett’s watch because the situation never got bad enough to require it.

As for the quiet in the south of the country, the coalition was formed just after the end of the Guardians of the Wall conflict. One year of quiet on the Gaza border after such a direct conflict with Hamas is not unprecedented.

In fact, there were some rocket attacks launched at Israel from Gaza over the past year.

Bennett went on to address what he said was a recurring complaint by Israelis who voted for the opposition parties and said their voices were ignored by the government.

“I was concerned as prime ministerfor all Israelis regardless of who they voted for,” he declared.

He also said that his government showed that political adversaries could work together. “We proved that [political] partnership can be good. We proved that it is possible to honor [political] agreements.”

Bennett concluded his remarks with a call for more political harmony among Israelis. “Let’s all be good to one another,” he said. “Let’s all listen to one another. Let’s learn to respect instead of hate.”