Who is running the country?

The new government has created an environment of confusion and indecisiveness that the world is taking advantage of. Op-ed.

Benjamin Sipzner‬‏ ,

Bennett, Sa'ar, Lapid, and other coalition members
Bennett, Sa'ar, Lapid, and other coalition members
Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s coalition, consisting of right wing, far left, Arab and center left parties, is compromising Israel’s security and ability to function. World leaders are noticing Bennett’s inexperience and lack of support from the right.

This past Friday morning, 19 rockets were fired into northern Israel from Lebanon. The terrorist organization, Hezbollah, claimed responsibility for the attack. This was the first time since the 2006 Lebanon War that the Iranian-backed group identified publicly with an attack on Israel.

According to IDF estimates as of July 2021, the Hezbollh terror group is in possession of over 150,000 rockets that are pointed at the State of Israel. Most of these rockets are short range rockets which threaten Israel’s northern region, but several thousand are long range missiles with the ability to strike Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Hezbollah is also in possession of dozens of drones, precision rockets and anti-aircraft missiles.

Friday, when Hezbollah cheerfully announced that they hd attacked Israel, it was tantamount to a declaration of war. Israel looks at Hezbollah as a formidable foe with a standing army of up to 50,000 soldiers with advanced weapons and technology. Their strength has always been far greater than that of Hamas, and Israel has maintained since 2006 that rocket fire by Hezbollah must be met with no less than war to deter them from releasing their arsenal of weapons on Israel.

It appears Naftali Bennett and his new government are willing to let Hezbollah make the rules. After the attack on Friday the IDF stated: "Hezbollah deliberately fired at open areas, it shows that they are deterred. We have no interest in escalating into war." It is kind of ironic, because on hundreds of occasions when the Israeli Air Force bombed open fields or makeshift lookouts in Gaza in response to rocket fire on southern Israel, we were told by the media and the army that it’s a legitimate response and not a sign of fear or weakness.

Perhaps the new Prime Minister now has a different approach for dealing with Hezbollah, but he himself said in August of 2017, “rocket fire from Hezbollah on Israel is a declaration of war from Lebanon on Israel.” That quote was after 3 rockets landed in Israel from Lebanon without Hezbollah taking responsibility for them.

Knesset member (Meretz) Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi said Sunday during an interview, “Bennett knows that if the government goes to a military confrontation - the coalition will fall because both Meretz and Raam will not agree to such a thing. The presence of Meretz and Raam in the coalition restricts military operations.” Bingo! Zoabi revealed what many of us already worried about, that the left-wing and Israeli Arab members of the coalition may endanger the State of Israel.

The makeshift government which allowed Bennett to become Prime Minister has created an environment of confusion and indecisiveness that the world and those around him are taking advantage of. Here are a few more examples:

The Biden administration realizes that Bennett is inexperienced and is therefore pushing towards a deal with Iran at all costs.

Furthermore, Iran itself has realized that Israel’s leadership does not have enough control and support to respond to open attacks on Israel. On July 29th Iran attacked an Israeli ship in the Gulf of Oman, killing two. Instead of recognizing this as an attack on Israel and responding with military action against Iranian interests as in the past, Israel has issued vague condemnation and empty threats.

On Coronavirus, the government's inability to act has led to chaos. Prime Minister Bennett was handed a country averaging 3 cases of the virus per day, and over the last week we are exceeding 3000 per day. As the cases started to rise in late June, Netanyahu pressured Bennett to bring a third shot of Pfizer vaccines to Israel and enforce quarantines for those entering the country from abroad. Instead, Israel started administering a third shot of the vaccine just two weeks ago.

Enforcement of quarantines is not taken seriously. A recent report from last week stated that 84% of travelers are not keeping the rules of quarantine. One million people in Israel who are eligible for vaccination still have not gotten the shot and Bennett has responded by threatening fines and calling them “ticking time bombs”, and “machine guns of the delta variant”. These are not words or actions from a leader in control.

The Religious Arab party, Raam, is an integral part of Bennett’s coalition. In order to join the coalition Raam negotiated a budget of 53 billion shekel over 10 years for the Arab community, approval of illegal housing for Bedouins in the Negev, much of which (600 dunam or ¾ of total land slated for approval) is on privately owned land, and the establishment of committees led by Raam to govern the Negev and Galilee.

Bennett’s party, Yamina, said during a tour in the Negev last year "The Negev and the Galilee can be a new engine of growth for the State of Israel - if we only restore security to its residents and we commit within the first ninety days to a right-wing government led by Naftali Bennett to bring order to the Negev and the Galilee."

Naftali Bennett himself said in November of last year, "The Israeli government has handed over the responsibility to Nissenkorn (Former Blue and White MK and Justice Minister) and Amir Peretz (Former head of Labor, Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Defense) to address the issue of the Bedouin in the Negev. This is unconditional surrender. An unenforced area has been created here in the Negev. Everyone builds where they want, violence is used. The state has lost control of the Negev." Although he said that center left Israeli politicians are not ensuring Israel’s interests in the Negev, he himself formed a coalition that has given full control of the desert and Galilee to Arab Knesset members who refuse to recognize the State of Israel.

On the ninth of Av, 1700 Jews ascended to the Temple Mount to mourn the destruction of the Temple. Prime Minister Bennett said afterwards that he wants “to maintain Jewish worship on the mountain”. The next day, Bennett retracted his support of Jewish worship on the Temple Mount so as to not displease his coalition partners.

The new prime minister is right wing, but he has been changing, editing and apologizing for policy decisions recently to preserve the coalition that he built. In two years, progressive left MK Yair Lapid is slated to be Prime Minister. Of course, if one of Bennett’s left wing or Arab partners topples the government that will not be the case.

Benjamin Sipzner managed the Anglo division for the Religious Zionist Party in the last election, is an Oleh from New York, formerly a student at Yeshivat Bet El and is serving in the IDF as a lone soldier. He can be reached at sipznerbenjamin@gmail.com.



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