Inside Israel

After snub, Bennett says Netanyahu ‘dangerously’ delegitimizing his government


Prime Minister Naftali Bennett hit back on Friday at opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, saying the latter was “undermining the legitimacy” of his government by failing to acknowledge his presence while speaking a day earlier at an event to mark the departure of outgoing Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman.

Netanyahu gave a long list of greetings to all the dignitaries present, but failed to acknowledge Bennett, leading to angry calls from some in the crowd, telling Netanyahu that “there’s a prime minister here.”

Hebrew media reported that Netanyahu decided to ignore Bennett in response to a supposed slight against his predecessor in Bennett’s own speech, when he said: “We are now in the age of we, not the age of me.”

An official in Bennett’s office told the Ynet news site that Bennett was referring to cooperation needed between the various security branches. However, that line was not included in the official transcript of his speech that was released to media outlets.

Advertisement

In a Facebook post published Friday afternoon, Bennett wrote: “The unpleasantness during such a dignified and moving event was a shame. I wasn’t the only one moving uncomfortably in my chair.”

“I hope the opposition chairman will understand that political disagreements are a natural thing,” Bennett added. “Disagreements are a part of life. But undermining the legitimacy of a government in Israel is dangerous.”

Bennett became prime minister earlier this year, ending more than a decade of rule by Netanyahu when he managed to pull together a disparate coalition of right-wing, centrist, left-wing and Arab parties, who mostly only agreed on the need to oust Netanyahu and break a two-year political deadlock.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) greets outgoing Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman at an event to honor the departing security chief on October 14, 2021. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Netanyahu has continued to disparage and delegitimize Bennett and his government since returning to the opposition.

Advertisement

On Monday, during a stormy Knesset plenum session, Netanyahu alleged that Bennett was “not a real prime minister.”

“When I was a three-year-old, I arranged the chairs in the living room, added wings, sat down and said: ‘I’m a pilot, I’m flying a plane,’ but I wasn’t a pilot. I was sitting in a chair, pretending I’m a pilot,” Netanyahu said.

“When a three-year-old does that, it’s cute. When Bennett sits on the prime minister’s chair and says: ‘I’m a pilot, I’m flying this plane’ — but in reality, he isn’t making the decisions — he may be prime minister by title but he isn’t a real prime minister. It isn’t cute, it’s pathetic and even dangerous. It’s all pretending,” the opposition chief said.

Bennett, meanwhile, has portrayed his new government as representing a new path of cooperation and dialogue, both in Israel and in relations with the world, accusing Netanyahu of divisiveness and self-interest in his time in power.

In his Facebook post on Friday, Bennett said he is “the prime minister who is least influenced by pressure groups and lobbyists in decades.” The prime minister added: “I don’t owe anybody anything, and therefore they have no leverage over me.”


Learn Hebrew in a fun, unique way

You get Israel news… but do you GET it? Here’s your chance to understand not only the big picture that we cover on these pages, but also the critical, juicy details of life in Israel.

In Streetwise Hebrew for the Times of Israel Community, each month we’ll learn several colloquial Hebrew phrases around a common theme. These are bite-size audio Hebrew classes that we think you’ll really enjoy.


Learn more

Advertisement


Learn more

Already a member? Sign in to stop seeing this


You’re serious. We appreciate that!

That’s why we come to work every day – to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and the Jewish world.

So now we have a request. Unlike other news outlets, we haven’t put up a paywall. But as the journalism we do is costly, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining The Times of Israel Community.

For as little as $6 a month you can help support our quality journalism while enjoying The Times of Israel AD-FREE, as well as accessing exclusive content available only to Times of Israel Community members.


Join Our Community


Join Our Community

Already a member? Sign in to stop seeing this



Facebook Comments Box

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button