On Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu delivered what may turn out to be his final speech as the prime minister of Israel after the Knesset voted to approve a new government by a single vote — 60 to 59, with one abstention. Naftali Bennett, whom the New York Times has incorrectly described as “right-wing,” was officially sworn in as the new prime minister.
But Netanyahu, the longest-serving prime minister of Israel, believes that Bennett will likely cave to international pressure when it comes to dealing with the leading state sponsors of terrorism in Iran and other adversaries who threaten Israel’s sovereignty and national security in the region.
“He doesn’t have the international standing,” Netanyahu said. “He doesn’t have the ability to put up genuine opposition…. An Israeli prime minister must be able to say no to the president of the United States on matters that endanger our existence, and to back this up with massive work in Congress, in the Senate, and in public opinion.”
Netanyahu also assailed Bennett and his Yamina Party as not a real right-wing party and accused his successor of defrauding right-wing voters and cozying up to left-wing causes. “Bennett always does the opposite of what he says, of what he promises,” Netanyahu said.
It remains to be seen if Bennett will continue some or any of Netanyahu’s successful policies, many of which were reminiscent of Trump’s “America First” agenda, including lowering taxes, encouraging competition, reducing regulations, securing the border, and turning Israel into an energy-independent superpower that now exports gas to Egypt and Jordan, and soon to Europe.
Since assuming power in 2009, Netanyahu prevented Israel from fighting in any major wars and kept casualty tolls at historic lows. He forged new alliances and new agreements with countries in Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America, India, Japan, Brazil, and Eastern Mediterranean countries, including Greece and Cyprus.
Netanyahu will leave office having nearly doubled the size of Israel’s economy. He raised household incomes 50 percent higher per capita and turned the country into one of the 20 wealthiest economies in the world, with a GDP per capita that surpasses Britain, Germany, and France.
Netanyahu also improved Israel’s standing with Russia, which allowed the Israeli Air Force to fly in parts of Syria to deter Iranian entrenchment on Israel’s northern border. He transformed Israel into a cyber power, constructed a fence on the Sinai border to block the influx of illegal immigrants from Africa, and built an underground obstacle that blocked Hamas’s terror tunnels towards the Gaza envelope area. “Unlike the blood-soaked years, the years of blood let in before us, in which we were washed over by unending waves of terrorism, we brought the best decades we’ve ever had. The statistics don’t lie,” Netanyahu said.
In addition to cooperating with the Trump administration to form the historic Abraham Peace Accords, Netanyahu also worked with the previous administration to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, resulting in the relocation of the American embassy and the recognition of Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan Heights. “We’ve changed the dangerous old doctrine of land for peace and brought peace for peace, real peace, economic peace, without giving up on … without uprooting a single Jew from his home,” Netanyahu said. “We have turned Israel into a global power” and have “brought tremendous achievements for Israel that we have never had before.”
Netanyahu saved a parting shot for President Biden and accused Israel’s new leader of caving to international political pressure and choosing cheap rhetoric over its national security: “From the moment the United States returns to the nuclear deal with Iran, the incoming government will not authorize meaningful operations inside Iran to prevent its continued armament…. A government that is incapable of standing up forcefully against the international community on matters that are fateful for us is not worthy of leading Israel even for a single day. That is the incoming government. Iran understands this, too. No wonder they’re celebrating there today.”
It has never been more apparent that Israel can no longer rely on the current administration in the White House or just about any Democrats in Congress to ensure that it has the necessary support to protect itself from terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, which openly seek to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth.
Still, Netanyahu remains optimistic about Israel’s future and that of the Likud Party: “To the millions of citizens in Israel, I tell you today, do not be downhearted. Stand tall. We shall continue to work together for our beloved country. I am with you, friends. Daily battle against this bad, dangerous, left-wing government, to topple it. And with God’s help, it will happen much sooner than you think.”
Let’s hope he’s right.
David Keltz was a speechwriter for the Administrator at the U.S. General Services Administration from 2020–21 and is the author of the new book The Campaign of His Life and Media Bias in the Trump Presidency and the Extinction of the Conservative Millennial. He previously served as a White House Intern for Vice President Mike Pence. You can follow him on Twitter @david_keltz or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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