Bennett: I want a coalition that stretches from Ben Gvir to Mansour Abbas – it might sound like fiction
In a lengthy and candid interview with Channel 12 news, outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett talks at length about some of his mistakes at work, his attitude towards Yamina party lawmakers whose defections cost him his majority, his thoughts on Benjamin Netanyahu’s suitability to return as prime minister, and the kind of government he thinks Israel needs.
In one of the many dramatic passages, he asks the hypothetical question: “Can a government that depends on [far-right Religious Zionism MKs Itamar] Ben Gvir and [Bezalel] Would Smotrich be good for Israel? No. I’m not saying they’re banned, but [the government] can’t be dependent on them… I respect a lot [Ra’am party leader] Mansour Abbas but it’s not good to be dependent on him. I want him in the coalition. [But] this year has proven that it is not good to depend on extremes.
Bennett then said, “I want a coalition [that spans the political spectrum] from Itamar Ben Gvir to Mansour Abbas – it may sound like fiction to you…”
It certainly is, interjects interviewer Dana Weiss.
Bennett continues, “The whole culture of ‘invalidation’ needs to go.”
Weiss then asks him if Netanyahu is a potential partner.
“If Netanyahu is the model of 2015, who has run the state with restraint, without going to crazy extremes, that’s perfectly fine. [to partner with him in government]. [But] if it’s [a situation with Netanyahu] that you are going to very bad places, then no.
“I’m on the right, but what Israel needs now is a government that just gets to work,” he says, saying that’s what his coalition did.
Weiss presses him on Netanyahu, asking if Netanyahu is fit to be Prime Minister of Israel right now.
Bennett replies, “I don’t assign grades… It depends on what he would do. It depends on the constraints that weigh on him.
Says Weiss: But you condemned him during your tenure as prime minister for his toxic machine and his fake news…
Bennett: “Horrible and unacceptable behavior.”
But the central question that determines political alliances, he says, must be what is in Israel’s interest.
In that case, Weiss asks, why not set up a government with the right right now?
Bennett says, “To set up a government in which the centre-left component is in mourning, and will be trampled on, and will have its bones broken, as [right-wing] Members say that would be very bad.