On Wednesday night, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced that he would not run in the new elections and would be taking a seat back from political life. When Yair Lapid, the Foreign Minister, replaces him as premier, Bennett would become alternate prime minister, but he will not participate in the upcoming elections.
The outgoing premier disclosed that the leadership of his Yamina party would go to Ayelet Shaked, who has been his political partner for a long time. The statement from Bennett was an emotional one in which he urged Israel to unite and to not let the achievements of his government go to waste.
He stated that while he would not run in the elections, he would still be a loyal soldier who has served the country and would continue to do so. He stated that he was ending his year as the prime minister of Israel and was leaving a strong and flourishing country behind him. He said that his government had managed to accomplish things in a year that other governments had not managed in their entire term.
The outgoing prime minister stated that a common good does exist and agreements can be made and followed. He said that they had to be united to ensure no one overcomes them and being divided would not help them at all.
The government’s accomplishments
In his speech, Naftali Bennett also highlighted the achievements of his government. He said that they had helped hundreds of thousands of people in finding employment, had brought the south security and quiet, raised the pay of soldiers, handled two waves of COVID-19 without imposing lockdowns, battled a wave of terror and sent a message to terrorists that they would pay the price of their actions.
He was also cryptic when he said that there would also be other important news that would benefit Israel’s future. This could be a reference to Israel advancing its ties with other countries. US President Joe Biden is due for a visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia. This has given rise to speculation that there could be a breakthrough coming.
Yamina party’s future
Bennett thanked Matan Kahana, who has been a stalwart ally, and Shaked as well. He called the former the best religious minister in the history of Israel. Kahana had been hoping to take over the Yamina party’s leadership after Bennett and it is unclear if he will stick under Shaked. In the wake of the announcement from Bennett, the CEO of the Yamina party, Stella Weinstein also chose to resign from her position.
A number of opinion polls had been conducted, which showed that the Yamina party would be able to secure only four seats in the upcoming elections. This puts the party at risk because it will be close to falling below the electoral threshold, which could see it get ejected from the Knesset. But, the party could win five seats under Shaked and if she partner’s with Netanyahu’s Likud, it would give the latter the Knesset majority.