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Bennett said to admit blame for Silman resignation, promise to change party strategy

PM reportedly tells close circle that he will ensure a new direction in Yamina, in terms of both policy and rhetoric, to meet lawmakers’ concerns

Yamina chair Naftali Bennett (C) and party members seen with supporters at a party event in Petah Tikva after election day, March 23, 2021. (Avi Dishi/Flash90)
Yamina chair Naftali Bennett (C) and party members seen with supporters at a party event in Petah Tikva after election day, March 23, 2021. (Avi Dishi/Flash90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reportedly told his close staff that he takes full blame for his fellow Yamina MK Idit Silman’s resignation from the coalition — a move that ended the government’s razor-thin majority in the Knesset, paralyzing its ability to pass legislation and leaving it near potential collapse — adding that his strategy towards his party “did not work.”

According to Channel 12 News, Bennett has begun realizing that the tensions between him and the other Yamina lawmakers did not only stem from a lack of attention on his part, but also from differing opinions about the party’s essence.

Channel 12 said that since hiring Shimrit Meir as his diplomatic adviser, Bennett has taken a more centrist approach, which might have been one of the main sources of the disquiet within Yamina.

“There were good achievements but the strategy did not work at the end,” Bennett told his advisers in a recent meeting, according to the report. “The responsibility, in the end, is on me. Now we’ll have to think about how to fix it.”

During the meeting, Bennett is said to have explicitly pledged a more nationalistic direction, both in terms of the discourse and in actions that Knesset members from Yamina could present to their public — to lead to an improvement in the current situation within the party.

The report said that Bennett was also upset with some of the left-wing and centrist members of his coalition, who were refusing to tone down their positions, making it increasingly difficult for the right-wing partners to stomach.

This apparent change in direction came after earlier on Sunday, Silman clarified that she has no intention of walking back her dramatic decision from last week to exit the coalition.

MK Idit Silman leads a Health Committee meeting at the Knesset on February 28, 2022 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“My decision to end my time in the coalition was based on values and therefore it is final,” she said in a statement.

The renegade MK called on her colleagues “to express the stance of the majority of the Israeli public and establish a national Zionist government within this Knesset.”

Silman’s defection leaves the government with just 60 of 120 seats. In the opposition there are 54 MKs led by MK Benjamin Netanyahu plus another 6 MKs in the Joint List of mainly Arab parties, who are opposed to Netanyahu. Thus, despite the government now lacking a majority, it is not immediately apparent that there exists a majority to bring it down.

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