Opposition leader vows to “restore national pride.”
By World Israel News Staff
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu denounced Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s claim that he acted solely in the interests of Israel in forming and also dissolving the 24th Knesset, saying it was all part of a “brainwashing charade.”
“Everyone is joyous” at the fall of the “worst government in Israel’s history,” Netanyahu said following the coalition heads’ dramatic announcement to dissolve the Knesset and send Israel to elections for the fifth time in 40 months.
He blamed the government for “the loss of personal security, raising the cost of living, and, most importantly, generating the loss of national pride.”
“A government that was dependent on supporters of terrorism, and […] endangered the Jewish character of our state. This government is going home,” he said, referencing Arab Islamist Ra’am party, which is part of the collapsed coalition.
Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas, however, responded to Netanyahu’s remarks by saying that he was courted by the then-prime minister to join a government with him.
Netanyahu accused Abbas of “lying,” and said he had only ever tried to strike a deal with the Arab MK on the passage of a single bill.
The opposition leader vowed to form a government that will “restore national pride” and “expand the circle of peace” with more moderate Muslim states following the success of the normalization deals signed with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan under his premiership.
Minutes earlier, Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who will succeed Bennett as prime minister of a caretaker government until a new government is sworn in, gave a press briefing in which they defended their decision to dissolve the Knesset.
“We are facing you today in a very difficult moment, but with the understanding that we made the right decision for Israel,” Bennett said.
According to Bennett, the decision to disband the coalition came after reckoning with the fact that the Judea and Samaria bill would not be passed, something he said he couldn’t allow to happen.
The bill, which calls for the renewal of the application of Israeli law in Judea and Samaria, failed to pass for the first time in 55 years earlier this month, marking a key defeat for the fragile coalition.
“I did not agree to harm Israel’s security,” he said.
Reflecting on the past year, Bennett said: “We formed a government that many thought was impossible. We extracted Israel from the terrible pit it was in. A year ago there was mass unemployment, a big deficit, riots, missiles on Jerusalem. There was paralysis on the part the government. With the help of God, we managed to form a government.”
Lapid said that the hard decision to dissolve the Knesset was proof that Israel was “in desperate need of a profound change and a major overhaul.”
“We need to return to a place of unity and not allow the forces of darkness unravel us from within. We need to remind ourselves that we love each other, love our country, and that only by working together can we win,” said the foreign minister.
Monday’s dramatic announcement came after months of uncertainty.
The government sworn in a little over a year ago was a coalition of ideologically disparate parties ranging from the right-wing Yamina, Yisrael Beiteinu and New Hope, to the centrist Yesh Atid and Blue and White, the left-wing Labor and Meretz and the Arab Islamist Ra’am party.
They were united in their desire to block Netanyahu from continuing as prime minister.