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January 31, 2023 9:09 am

Bennett Vows Return to Premiership, Calls on US Jewry to ‘Embrace’ Israel

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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett delivers a statement to the media, telling reporters he will not be running in Israel’s next election, at the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, in Jerusalem June 29, 2022. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun – Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet vowed on Monday to return to politics, comparing himself to Yitzhak Rabin and Benjamin Netanyahu, both of whom recaptured the premiership after lengthy periods out of office.

“In Israel, we can be recycled. It never ends. Rabin was prime minister from ’74 to ’77 and came back. Bibi [Netanyahu] was prime minister from ’96 to ’99 and he’s back. So I’ll be back,” said Bennett.

He was speaking at the Temple Emanu-El Streicker Cultural Center in Manhattan at an event co-hosted by the UJA-Federation of New York.

Addressing the animus being directed by some circles at the current government, including over plans to reform the judiciary, Bennett implored U.S. Jewry to not turn its collective back on Israel.

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“I urge you, don’t give up on Israel, even if we’re going through a midlife crisis,” he said. “We will overcome this, because the majority of the public wants a Jewish and democratic Israel, wants Judaism, does not want coercion.

“When your family member goes through a crisis, you don’t give up on them—quite the contrary, you embrace them, you help them through this period,” added Bennett.

Bennett earlier this month criticized the proposed legal reforms by the Netanyahu-led government, tweeting: “It’s no secret that I believe that for generations, the judicial system has assumed excessive powers, and blocked any attempt at correction. I believe that certain changes are needed in the judicial system and in recent years we have even promoted some of them. But you don’t correct a historical distortion with another distortion.”

For his part, Netanyahu has repeatedly defended the plan to overhaul the legal system and called on opposition leaders to stop threatening “civil war” and speaking of “the destruction of the state.”

“The reform will be launched, and just as we weren’t daunted in the past from the attacks by the left and the media, we will not be daunted this time either,” said Netanyahu. “The discussion in most media channels around the legal reforms is intentionally superficial and one-sided. Everything is designed to foment false panic about the ‘end of democracy.’”

Bennett announced his resignation shortly after the decisive victory of Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc in the Nov. 1 national election, and informed then-Prime Minister Yair Lapid of his decision.

Bennett in June 2021 defected from the right in order to lead a coalition as part of a power-sharing agreement with Lapid.

In a Sept. 14 post, which he pinned to the top of his Facebook and Twitter accounts, Bennett described his decision to abandon his right-wing base and join forces with center-left, far-left and Islamist parties as the “best and most Zionist decision in my life.”

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