Netanyahu hands Bennett defense ministry

Bennett will be appointed defense minister. 

By World Israel News Staff

New Right leader Naftali Bennett agreed to take the defense portfolio after a Friday morning meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The appointment still needs to be approved at a government meeting.

Bennett also accepted that if a solution is found to the current political impasse, or a broad, unity government is formed, he will step down to make way for another candidate to fill the post.

The Likud and New Right parties also agreed to run as a joint faction in the current Knesset and if it is dissolved to run as a joint list in a possible third general election.

The Likud and Israel Beiteinu took a similar decision in 2012 ahead of the elections for the 19th Knesset. Although the parties won 11 less seats than their combined representatives in the 18th Knesset, together they had enough to become the largest Knesset list.

Netanyahu’s decision to hand Bennett the defense portfolio is a major reversal from November 2018. Then Bennett demanded the defense ministry after Avigdor Liberman, chairman of the Israel Beiteinu party, quit the post.

Despite Bennett’s ultimatum, Netanyahu was adamantly against the idea, and eventually took the position for himself, serving as both prime minister and defense minister.

Bennett, who was then education minister, and Ayelet Shaked, then-justice minister, eventually backed down from their demand.

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Netanyahu said at the time, “I told them not to bring down the government, especially at such a sensitive time from a security perspective.”

“I told them they must not repeat the mistake of 1992 when a Likud government was brought down and replaced with a government that brought us the Oslo disaster. I told them that they must not repeat the mistake of 1999 when factions within the government brought it down and it was replaced with a government that brought us the Intifada,” the prime minister said.