The head of the right-wing Yemina Party and former Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had failed the country in handling the coronavirus crisis and is convinced he will lead Israel after the March elections.

According to Bennett, Netanyahu buckled under pressure from different political parties and interest groups, and as a result squandered a successful response to the first wave of coronavirus infections, crippling the economy due to lack of leadership.

“All sectors are suffering from a lack of courage. Politics is being placed before substance,” Bennett told Israel Army Radio, dismissing Netanyahu’s boasting that he was responsible for obtaining millions of doses of vaccines and asking rhetorically “will he also take credit for 3,300 deaths and the highest level of unemployment?”

Bennett rejected suggestions he might support a Netanyahu led government after the upcoming March 23 national election saying “Netanyahu has to go home is because he failed at the critical hour.”

“This time I say unequivocally – we will not recommend Netanyahu. We will recommend Bennett for prime minister,” he said, adding that he thinks the ongoing corruption trial of Netanyahu is not a factor.

“It’s not about the trial, the thing is that lately he’s been dealing with other things. Is his conduct proper? No. Was there an effort on the part of the justice system to investigate him and his associates? Yes. But the reason he has to go home is that he failed at the critical hour,” Bennett said.

Following the national election held in March 2020, which did not produce a clear winner, Bennett, who served as Defense Minister and Education Minister in the previous Netanyahu-led coalition government, rejected an offer to join him again and instead sat in opposition in the Knesset

“This is the first time I say I will not recommend Netanyahu, I will recommend myself,” adding “but the public will decide.”