'Jewish Home ministers did the right thing'

Likud leaders praise Bennett, Shaked for remaining in coalition. Ex-Defense Minister Liberman and left-wing MKs blast decision.

David Rosenberg,

Tzipi Hotovely
Tzipi Hotovely
Flash 90

The announcement Monday morning by Jewish Home ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked that the 8-member faction will remain in the Netanyahu government won praise from Likud lawmakers, while opposition MKs ridiculed the decision.

In the midst of the worst coalition crisis to face the Netanyahu government since its formation in 2015, the Jewish Home party declared Monday morning that despite Prime Minister Netanyahu’s refusal of their demands that he appoint Bennett as Defense Minister, the faction would not attempt to topple the coalition.

Netanyahu’s government is in a precarious position, following the departure of former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and his Yisrael Beytenu faction. After Liberman’s resignation, the Likud-led government’s majority shrank from 66 seats to just 61 – the bare minimum necessary to maintain a functioning majority in the 120-member Knesset.

While Prime Minister Netanyahu must still convince other coalition partners, including the Kulanu and Shas factions, to remain, Jewish Home chairman Bennett’s decision to remain in the government provides a much needed boost to the coalition.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) lauded the Jewish Home leaders’ decision to remain, writing in a tweet Monday that Bennett and Shaked “did the right thing”.

“Bennett and Shaked did the right thing; instead of forcing us into [early] elections at Liberman’s whim, the national interest was preserved. Now is the time for everyone to go back to work.”

Likud MK and chairman of the Knesset’s Land of Israel Lobby Yoav Kish also praised the Jewish Home for its decision to remain in the coalition.

“In the end, they made the right choice,” Kish told reporters at a journalism conference in Eilat Monday.

“I tweeted an hour ago that it still wasn’t too late to show real leadership. Now things are going back to normal.”

MK Liberman, on the other hand, ripped the announcement, tweeting: “Now everyone understands why we lost our deterrence,” mocking the Jewish Home’s decision to walk back its ultimatum regarding the Defense Ministry.

Zionist Union MK and former Labor chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich said the Jewish Home had breathed life into what she called a ‘dying’ ‘far-right government’.

“The decision of Bennett and Shaked to extend the life of the dying Netanyahu government is saddening, and it empowers the rule of the far-right, which represents just a small part of the country as a whole. Shaked’s term as [Justice Minister] is a violent assault on the justice system and rule of law.”

“For all the criticism of Netanyahu over his decision to name himself Defense Minister for political propaganda purposes and his own political survival, we can nonetheless breathe a sigh of relief over the fact that the Defense Ministry portfolio was not given to Bennett, and that [Bennett] was not permitted to pursue his war fantasies, which would have forced us to pay a heavy price with our children’s blood.”