Netanyahu holds the position of Defense Minister temporally after the resignation of Avigdor Lieberman, and will be formally named the Defense Minister in the coming weeks.
Lieberman resigned in protest over Netanyahu’s failure to more forcibly respond to the latest Hamas rocket barrage from Gaza.
For decades now, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has touted himself as “Mr. Security,” the only politician and leader who can truly protect Israelis from their many foes.
But an unfortunate confluence of events in recent weeks has called that title into question.
When Netanyahu assumed the defense portfolio very few Israelis batted an eye, thinking that surely “Mr. Security” was up to the task.
Then a wave of terrorist attacks swept across Samaria, filling the newspapers with heart-wrenching headlines of young soldiers, pregnant women and babies being maimed or losing their lives.
Mr. Security had failed in the eyes of most Israelis.
A crowd gathered outside the official Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem last week to demand that Netanyahu either get his act together, or step down.
On Sunday, they gathered again, this time outside the Prime Minister’s Office, and were joined by no fewer than nine members of Netanyahu’s cabinet, including Education Minister Naftali Bennett.
“The security establishment has chosen the rights of Palestinians over the security of Israelis,” Bennett railed. “When Netanyahu appointed himself defense minister, he promised a change in policy. That hasn’t happened yet.”
The crowd of several hundred responded by chanting, “Bibi, resign, you are not wanted anymore!”
A public survey conducted by Hadashot TV found that the sentiment is widespread. A full 58 percent of respondents said they were either “unsatisfied” or “very unhappy” with Netanyahu’s performance as defense minister. Only 7 percent said they were “very happy” and 26 percent reported being “satisfied” with the Israeli leader of late.
Those numbers do not bode well ahead of national elections.
With the departure of Liberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party from the ruling coalition, Netanyahu holds a razor-thin 61-59 majority in the Knesset. Should Bennett and his Jewish Home faction become too disgruntled, a vote of no-confidence could easily pass and topple the government, leading to early elections, for which many are already calling.
Even if the current government survives it’s full term, national elections are scheduled for November of next year. That’s not a lot of time for Netanyahu to repair his reputation as Israel’s most security-savvy politician, thus potentially robbing Israel’s longest-serving prime minister of one of his primary campaign slogans.
Contributed by Israel Today