He’s running? Naftali Bennett makes a DC comeback 2023

He was Israel’s shortest-serving prime minister and has no political party.

Naftali Bennett is suggesting that he’s ready to run again just 10 months after leaving Israel’s highest office and amid historic turmoil.

Bennett, a strong right-wing politician, led an ideologically diverse alliance that ousted Netanyahu after 12 years in office in 2021. After a year, Bennett’s coalition collapsed, he resigned, and Netanyahu won the election.

Bennett performs abroad. Bennett met with Democratic lawmakers and answered questions from reporters at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington, D.C., this week. In a snapshot from the visit, Bennett explains something to the group in a busy room.

“Today in a series of meetings with congressmen and congresswomen on the Hill and government officials,” he tweeted in Hebrew alongside the photo. It starts.

Beginnings are unclear. Bennett and a spokesman declined to comment on whether he would run again. But his social media feed implies he misses being prime minister, and in remarks to reporters on Tuesday, he sounded like he could run again.

We need moderate in the way we govern Israel for the next 10 years.”

“I believe that Israel, for the next decade or two, we need centrist governments that can focus on 70% of the issues that Israelis agree upon, and setting aside that 30% of issues that are in ideological conflict,” Bennett repeated his governing philosophy. I think it’s the only route forward for 10–20 years. This divisiveness and destructive discussion must end. That will help Israel succeed.”

He also tweeted that polls showed him gaining eight seats in Israel’s parliament if he returned to politics, more than his former party, Yamina, won in 2021 before he became prime minister.

On Monday, the eve of Yom Hashoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, he released a speech he gave as prime minister last year, praising Israel for “relying only on ourselves to be strong, and to never apologize for our existence.”

Before his US visit last week, he tweeted a favorable comparison of his performance to Netanyahu’s. “As long as I can remember, I have taken responsibility,” he wrote, accusing Netanyahu and his senior advisors of “blame and excuses.” Netanyahu tweeted, “Something different is possible,” on the 100th day of his current government a week earlier. His feed has the tweet pinned.

Democracy in Israel will prevail, making Israel stronger.”

Netanyahu’s government has proposed a sweeping court reform that will weaken the Supreme Court, sparking massive street protests. Bennett told the Washington Institute that he was in the US to counter the idea that the instability was harming Israel.

Despite his enthusiasm, Bennett may have a long road to recovery following his brief prime ministership. He was a key pro-settler politician, hostile to Palestinian statehood, and a right-wing influence on Netanyahu for almost a decade. Despite their personal animosity, Bennett took his “rightward” party, which collaborated with right-wing, centrist, left-wing, and Islamist parties, in 2021.

Bennett’s erstwhile right-wing friends saw the decision as a betrayal, and several party members deserted, depriving his coalition of a parliamentary majority and forcing new elections. Bennett gave up the prime ministership to his centrist coalition partner, Yair Lapid, who lost to Netanyahu last November.

The enormous antigovernment protests seem to be reinvigorating parliamentary opposition leader Lapid. He tied with Netanyahu in a recent Israeli prime minister poll. Benny Gantz, another centrist, scored higher.

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