Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett
Economy and Trade Minister Naftali BennettFlash 90

Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, was the big winner in this week’s legislation marathon, analysts agree.

In his weekly column, journalist Ben Caspit wrote, “So who won and who lost this week? Let’s start with Bennett. Bennett won big.

“The Enlistment Bill was built to fit the religious-Zionist community that sent him to Knesset,” he explained.

“The Governance Bill finally cancels the option for every random person with a kippah from Kiryat Arba to run alone,” he added - an apparent reference to former MK Michael Ben-Ari’s Otzma Leyisrael party, which narrowly missed entering Knesset and was widely seen as having drawn voters away from Jewish Home.

The final of the three controversial bills to pass this week, the National Referendum Bill, “is Bennett’s dream of a lifetime since he headed the Yesha Council,” Ben Caspit concluded.

MK Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home party came out ahead as well, he continued. Shaked headed the Knesset committee that put together the Enlistment Bill. “Ayelet Shaked carved out her place as a significant political force… She led the debates in the committee bearing her name with discipline and determination. Not for nothing does Bennett call the Enlistment Bill ‘the Shaked Bill,’” he wrote.

Amnon Avramovich, a senior analyst for Channel 2, had a similar interpretation of events. “The real victor, and the one who is leading this government, is Bennett and the Jewish Home,” he declared.

“They’re getting everything they want: massive construction in the West Bank, the National Referendum law, an exemption for hesder yeshivas from doing army service like everyone else,” he charged. Students in the army’s hesder program, which is associated primarily with the religious-Zionist community, will continue to do under two years of active military service as part of a special five-year program.

The Referendum Bill in particular “will torpedo the already non-existent chance of reaching a diplomatic agreement” with the Palestinian Authority, Avramovich said.

An editorial in the left-wing paper Haaretz referred to the government as “the first Bennett administration.”

“The Coalition factions acted as Bennett’s back-up singers. Some with enthusiasm – like most Likud representatives, who are courting the settlers – and some with silence, aiming to keep their seats, such as the Yesh Atid and Hatnua parties,” the editorial read.

“Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni struggled to influence the path the country is taking, and came across as a layer of make-up meant to hide an extremist, right-wing government,” it concluded.