Many politicians might have caved to the seemingly inevitable. Netanyahu did not.
Israel’s national security was at stake, Netanyahu declared in a fierce nine-minute address to the nation on Sunday night, and he, for one, was not going to abandon the ship of state in the midst of what he called a complex, ongoing military operation against Israel’s enemies.
In contrast to his piffling ministerial detractors, he told Israelis, he was not engaged in “sloganeering.” He was working to ensure Israel’s long-term security. Just as he had risked his life in battle as an officer in Israel’s most elite special forces unit, just as he had faced down even the previous president of the United States in his fight against the “dreadful” Iran nuclear deal, so now he was focused solely on defeating Israel’s current enemies. However misguided last Tuesday’s decision to halt the fight against Hamas may have looked, he indicated, Israelis were not yet seeing the full picture. But they could rely on him and on the security establishment, indeed they should and must rely on him and on the security establishment, to see the job through to its completion.
Time will tell. The voting public will be watching closely. And as Netanyahu knows particularly well after the events of the past week, Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Liberman, dwarfed and outflanked for now, will be poised to exploit any new perceived failure or weakness.
Speaking at a press conference at the Knesset, Bennett said he had decided to “stand by the prime minister’s side,” and not act on his ultimatum to leave the government.