Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett Haim Zach (GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Saturday night urged unity, promising that, "The government will serve its full term."

At a press conference together with Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), Bennett said, "Citizens of Israel, the good news is that the budget for 2021 and 2022 has passed. We have thus completed the complex move of rescuing Israel from three years of instability."

"We formed the government less than five months ago. We shifted to a policy of managing the country alongside the coronavirus without lockdowns and we broke – with determination, in the face of pressures – the Delta wave. We made the decision to be first in the world with booster shots; we managed, and are still managing, this entire operation closely, in order to protect the health of the people without wrecking the economy and safeguard all aspects of life. It is enough to look at the jump in morbidity in Europe to understand where we are and where the world is.

"We moved from unemployment to employment, from negative growth following a very difficult economic year due to the pandemic and the lockdowns, to impressive growth of over 7%. And now we have passed the budget, which will ensure economic and political stability. With quiet persistence and joint effort, we have steered the ship to safe shores.

"Here, I would like to thank all of the partners – Yair, a partner and friend, and Finance Minister Liberman, who have done outstanding work. The government is stable; it will serve a full term. Now we must look to the long list of tasks that awaits us, everyone in their sphere, and get to work. The stability that we brought with the formation of the government and the passage of the budget, the fact that we are not in a fifth election campaign, is a blessing and a great gift for the State of Israel.

"Our next mission is to utilize this stability and deal with the challenges and problems that have been neglected for years: Housing costs, the traffic jams that are out of control, Israel's infamous cost of living, the helplessness of the people in the face of rampaging crime, and the loss of governance in the Negev. Without delay, without despairing in advance, even if the tasks are great, and even if they take time – we will get started.

"Friends, tomorrow morning, with a stable government and an approved state budget, we are getting started. Citizens of Israel, we have entered the [Hebrew] month of Kislev, the month of light. It is precisely during the darkest days of the year that we light a candle and then another candle, together. Nobody stands aside; nobody is left behind. Everyone is welcome, everybody, all citizens of Israel, are important; we will look after everyone.

"The great test of this government, of all of us, is in showing restraint. If we succeed in resisting the temptation to quarrel and bicker, if we succeed in focusing on what unites us and not on what divides us, if we lay aside for a moment the rivalries between us – at long last there are no elections on the horizon, we will join hands, focus on the people of Israel and its major security, social and economic challenges and we will take the State of Israel, which is unlike any other country in the world, ten steps forward. Thank you."

Liberman, speaking after Bennett, thanked his coalition partners and said, "I have been part of many governments, and I have never seen a government that works with the cooperation of this one."

"This budget is the most socially oriented budget in the many administrations that I have seen. There is a lengthy list of areas where we are investing in the strength of our society. I thank my comrades in the coalition, and tomorrow, we will set to work."

Liberman added that the government will construct a solar energy plant in Dimona.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) said, "What has brought us to this moment is the ability to bridge the gaps."

"In this coalition, which is the most complex in Israel's history, we have put our differences aside... We promised to bring back sanity, we promised to ensure stability."

"We have decided to take responsibility. We have no time to fight on Twitter. We are focusing on police, on small businesses, on students, on the unemployed, on those who need it... I thank all the leaders of the coalition for fighting back against enormous pressure. We have made history."

During the question-and-answer session that followed, Bennett emphasized, "The government will live out its term."

Noting the repeated rounds of elections in the period before his government was formed, Bennett said, "We pulled Israel out of the mud."

Both the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister emphasized their opposition to a US Consulate in East Jerusalem. Bennett later clarified that he believed there would be no further conflict with the United States despite this.

Lapid answered a question regarding the appointment of relatives to positions by saying, "I didn't know that there was any law forbidding people from volunteering."

Bennett promised that the situation in Ethiopia is being carefully monitored but refused to elaborate what plans of action would be taken.

Bennett also insisted that he had not broken promises, but rather kept them, and had fulfilled his promise that there would not be another round of elections or another lockdown. He deferred a question regarding the use of the Prime Minister's plane.

Finance Minister Liberman claimed that he has no issues with the hareidi community, only with the Shas and UTJ parties, and that he cannot condone the calling of the Prime Minister a traitor. Prime Minister Bennett added that the current government would take steps to separate the question of military service from the hareidi community's entry into the workforce.

Foreign Minister Lapid commented that Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White) made a significant sacrifice by refusing the chance to be Prime Minister and choosing a budget instead. He insisted that the USA was alerted to the decision to blacklist PA nonprofits as far back as May and that most of the decisions were only the end of processes that began long ago.

Bennett insisted that he intends to honor all agreements with the community of the new town of Evyatar in the Samaria region.

Foreign Minister Lapid deferred questions on the cyberwar companies NSO and Candira, saying that they were private companies and of no influence on government policies, and stressed that Israel had the strictest of cyberwar regulations and was enforcing them continually.

Lapid also declined to comment on the situation in Sudan, saying that any such comment would be premature.