A Year in Office, Bennett Appeals to Israel’s ‘Silent Majority’

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett delivers a speech during the annual Yom Hazikaron Remembrance Day ceremony for fallen Israeli soldiers, in the Yad LaBanim Memorial in Jerusalem May 3, 2022. (Reuters)
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett delivers a speech during the annual Yom Hazikaron Remembrance Day ceremony for fallen Israeli soldiers, in the Yad LaBanim Memorial in Jerusalem May 3, 2022. (Reuters)
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A Year in Office, Bennett Appeals to Israel’s ‘Silent Majority’

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett delivers a speech during the annual Yom Hazikaron Remembrance Day ceremony for fallen Israeli soldiers, in the Yad LaBanim Memorial in Jerusalem May 3, 2022. (Reuters)
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett delivers a speech during the annual Yom Hazikaron Remembrance Day ceremony for fallen Israeli soldiers, in the Yad LaBanim Memorial in Jerusalem May 3, 2022. (Reuters)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett appealed for more open support from what he described as Israel's silent majority on Friday as he marked a year in office with his governing coalition tenuously controlling half the seats in parliament.

In a 27-page pamphlet circulated over social media, Bennett sought to play up his achievements and fend off his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, a conservative who as opposition leader has accused the government of being soft on national security.

Bennett, a nationalist, ended Netanyahu's record 12-year reign in June 2021 at the head of a rare cross-partisan alliance that includes an Islamist party representing members of Israel's 21% Arab minority, many of whom identity with the Palestinians.

Casting attacks on him as offset by the "silent Zionist majority", Bennett urged his supporters: "Raise your voice. Spread our message that decent people with different views who love the country can sit together and work for its betterment."

A lawmaker from Bennett's own party quit in April, citing sectarian disputes and ending his 61-59 seat majority in the Knesset. That left him vulnerable to no-confidence motions and banking on disarray among the opposition to survive.

An opinion poll broadcast by Channel 12 TV last week found that, were an election held now, Netanyahu would come out ahead, set to wield 59 parliament seats while parties in the current coalition would end up with 55. Among Netanyahu's allies are ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties that sometimes distance themselves from Zionism.

Forty-six percent of Israelis deemed Netanyahu best-suited for top office, whereas 21% favored Bennett, the Channel 12 poll found.

The incumbent's political jeopardy comes at an important diplomatic juncture. He is due to host US President Joe Biden soon - perhaps later this month - to strategize on Iran,



Has the West Succeeded in Containing Houthi Red Sea Attacks?

This handout photo released by the US Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) shows US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter aircraft of the Carrier Strike Group 2 (CSG2), deployed to support maritime security in the Middle East region, flying over the Red Sea on June 11, 2024. (US Navy/AFP)
This handout photo released by the US Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) shows US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter aircraft of the Carrier Strike Group 2 (CSG2), deployed to support maritime security in the Middle East region, flying over the Red Sea on June 11, 2024. (US Navy/AFP)
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Has the West Succeeded in Containing Houthi Red Sea Attacks?

This handout photo released by the US Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) shows US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter aircraft of the Carrier Strike Group 2 (CSG2), deployed to support maritime security in the Middle East region, flying over the Red Sea on June 11, 2024. (US Navy/AFP)
This handout photo released by the US Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) shows US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter aircraft of the Carrier Strike Group 2 (CSG2), deployed to support maritime security in the Middle East region, flying over the Red Sea on June 11, 2024. (US Navy/AFP)

The US and western powers appear “incapable” of containing the attacks by the Houthis in Yemen against commercial ships in the Red Sea eight months after the Iran-backed militias started launching their operations.

The Houthis have been carrying out drone and missile strikes on shipping lanes since November, saying they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians in Israel's war in Gaza.

The US, UK and European powers have since dispatched missions to the region to counter these attacks with apparent little success as the Houthis have upped their operations, with their strikes even reaching the Mediterranean.

Dr. Najeeb Ghallab, undersecretary at Yemen's Information Ministry, said the West still wrongly believes that the Houthis can be “rehabilitated” and employed to combat terrorism.

US envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking said in April that a military solution was not possible to resolve the problem in Yemen.

Ghallab added that the US, West and even China have “all failed” in containing the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea and their threats to international navigation.

“The Houthis are a suicideal phenomenon that is more dangerous than ISIS, the Taliban and al-Qaeda. These groups did not threaten international trade the way the Houthis are doing now. In spite of this, the West is still incapable of taking firm decisions,” he went on to say.

The Houthis are labeled as “reckless”, not “terrorist”, when they violate the interests of the Yemeni people and the entire world, he lamented.

“The Americans have a blind spot in handling the Yemeni file. They are still following Obama’s approach and favoring Iran’s agents in the region,” Ghallab stressed.

The Americans and UK have carried out around 530 strikes against the Houthis since January, leaving 58 of their members dead and 86 injured, according to the militias.

The Houthi attacks have so far hit 27 ships, sinking two.

Ghallab wondered why western powers have yet to strike the Houthi command and control centers. The US is only targeting command and control centers from where the rockets are being fired, but they have yet to attack critical Houthi locations.

Have the western powers struck a deal with the Houthis as part of a plan to legitimize them in Yemen and turn them into a partner with all national powers? he asked.

He dismissed the possibility, stressing that the Houthis are extorting the Arab coalition, legitimate Yemeni government and international community.

Moreover, he warned that the world is facing in the Houthis “an organized and professional terrorist” group, meanwhile, “no one is prepared to support the legitimate powers in Yemen to end the Iran-made crime in the country.”

“The world remains blind when it comes to Yemen. Yes, the Houthis may be claiming victories now, but, at the end of the day, they will be defeated,” he remarked.

Asked about the best way to confront the Houthis, he replied: “The answer may be impossible, but it is simple. We have a real force on the ground in Yemen, not just in regions held by the legitimate government, but in Hodeidah, Saada and Sanaa. Everyone there is looking for salvation from the Houthis.”

“Are foreign powers prepared to support the real forces so that a Yemeni state can be formed?” he wondered, while noting that the West “is opposed to the idea of freedom and revolution in Yemen.”

“This is a western problem, not a Russian or Chinese one. This isn’t a conspiracy,” he went on to say. “Rather, the West is strategically blind to the situation.”