Bennett demands ‘revolution’ in Israel’s defense policy

Bennett said his party will remain in the government but called for an overhaul of security policies, stressing that Israel must start winning again. 

By Jack Gold, World Israel News

Jewish Home leader and Minister of Education Naftali Bennett called on the government to “change the course of its ship” and adopt an offensive and uncompromising security policy.

After announcing at a press conference on Monday that his party will remain part of the coalition, despite threats last week that he would leave if not given the defense minister portfolio, Bennett said that Israel needs to return to winning its battles.

Bennett heavily criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s defense policies but said he would “stand by his side” in an attempt to rectify Israel’s “deep security crisis.”

“The State of Israel is in the midst of a security crisis,” said Bennett. “Cruel enemies are nothing new to us. The situation hasn’t changed.”

In an address to the nation from the defense ministry in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu warned Sunday evening, referring largely to the terror emanating from Gaza, that Israel is “in a battle that has not yet ended. In such a sensitive period of security, it is irresponsible to topple the government.”

Responding to that assertion, Bennett said that “there is no apocalypse on the horizon. There are challenges, enemies,” as Israel has always faced.

‘We can go back to winning’

He is not worried by Israel’s enemies, but by “something bad that is happening from within, saying that the root cause of the current crisis was in its perception and conduct, not existential threats.

“Our soldiers are more afraid of the IDF’s attorney than of [Hamas leader] Yahya Sinwar,” Bennett stated. “From defeating the enemy we have moved to the containment of the enemy.”

“The ship of Israel’s security has sailed in the wrong direction,” but can and should change course, he continued. “Israel has stopped winning. We think that there is no answer to terror, to rockets and mortars. But there is an answer. We can go back to winning.”

He added that “the ball is in the prime minister’s court,” and that he will be closely monitoring Netanyahu’s actions in the coming weeks.

Touching on specific issues, Bennett said that “after firing more than 530 Hamas rockets at Israeli communities and the launching of a Kornet missile at a bus with soldiers, we suddenly tell ourselves within a miraculous way that everything is all right and that Hamas is deterred as never before.”

‘A false panic’

As for the demolition of the illegal Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, Bennett charged that “the Israeli government has entered into a false panic and is afraid to evacuate an illegal Arab outpost, Khan al-Ahmar, despite all the High Court of Justice’s rulings, in fear of what will be said about us in Europe.”

He also assailed the government’s failure to level terrorists’ homes, an act of deterrence taken against potential terrorists.

“There are at this moment 102 terrorist homes which the IDF has measured and prepared for demolition that are still standing,” he pointed out. “We don’t have the spirit to destroy them.”

“What the prime minister has called responsibility has been interpreted by our enemies as indecision, and there’s a thin line between them. The ship of Israel’s national security has been heading in a bad direction for the past decade, and the most dangerous thing is that we have begun to believe that there is no solution to terrorism,” Bennett warned, saying that “when Israel wants to win, we will go back to winning, we aren’t destined to lose.”

‘Replacing indecision with decisiveness’

The reason he left a successful hi-tech career for politics, he added, was “to offer an alternative, to replace indecision with decisiveness, tiredness with initiative, confusion with belief.”

He concluded by announcing that he was dropping his political demands and “will help the prime minister win. I know that I will lose political points in the coming days, but it doesn’t matter. Its better that the prime minister beat me in a political battle than [Hamas leader Ismail] Haniyeh beat the State of Israel.”