Op-ed: Education Minister Bennett need not fear the PM’s threat to fire him: Netanyahu has no replacement for the Bayit Yehudi Chairperson.

This was, without a doubt, Naftali Bennett’s week. The discovery of the Hamas tunnel gave him an “I told you so” moment, his calls for support of Israeli Arabs as part of the state gave him a level-headed look, and this latest: His most recent clash with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

It seems that the Minister of Education was everywhere you looked, sitting on the PM’s neck like an itchy rash. Challenging him, pulling him rightward, forcing him into statements that would probably not have been uttered had it not been for the Bayit Yehudi Chairperson’s provocations.s

Netanyahu and Bennett. (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
Netanyahu and Bennett. (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)


And then, after long weeks of this pattern bearing fruit, an explosion occurred: Prime Minister Netanyahu threatened to terminate Bennett during a Cabinet meeting, in front of ministers, the IDF Chief of Staff and other senior officers, and senior government clerks. Bennett hinted all week long that he was going to raise an issue during the Cabinet meeting. Rumors of this impending act reached the media, and the PM’s aides were contacted for response.

Netanyahu heard this and fumed. He knew what this was bout: On Sunday, during the government meeting which took place in the Golan Heights, Bennett told Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon that he intends to raise the topic of an IDF withdrawal from Area A at the Wednesday Cabinet meeting. Netanyahu apparently heard this and decided to not put the topic on the Cabinet’s agenda.

An so, the Cabinet meeting started with a discussion of the Defense Ministry’s budget. The list of topics to be discussed in the meeting did not contain a single word about Area A. Bennett saw that his desired discussion was not forthcoming, and addressed the PM. You said there’d be a discussion, he told Netanyahu, you promised me.

It should be safe to assume that this was not said gently, but aggressively and angrily. PM Netanyahu, who was already angry coming into this meeting, told Bennett that he should relax, and that Bennett was nt the one setting the agenda. Bennett replied, saying he would not relax.

Bennett's discussion topic was not on the Cabinets agends during the meeting in the Golan Heights. (Photo: Kobi Gideon)
Bennett’s discussion topic was not on the Cabinets agends during the meeting in the Golan Heights. (Photo: Kobi Gideon)


You can leave, said the Prime Minister. I won’t leave, answered Bennett. The PM stood up, as if to leave himself. I’ll fire you, he told Bennett. The Education Minister remained silent.

It was an embarrassing moment, mostly because of the military personnel’s presence. Everyone in the room knew Netanyahu doesn’t just misspeak. He came prepared, with that threat – firing Bennett – in his pocket.

His isn’t a small thing, a PM threatening another party’s leader like this. But you don’t threaten to take your goalie out of the game unless you have a substitute ready, and Netanyahu has no other goalie on the bench. Bennett could have told Netanyahu, “You don’t have to fire me, I quit.” And this government would have met its end right then and there.

As reported by Ynetnews