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Kabul blast shatters illusions of Bennett-Biden honeymoon on Iran

10 26 5
27.08.2021

Naftali Bennett could have thought he was on a lucky streak.

Despite his Yamina faction winning only seven seats in the 2021 Knesset elections — tied for fifth place with four other parties — after all the backroom wheeling and dealing, Bennett somehow found himself coming out on top as prime minister.

Though managing an ideologically incoherent coalition of pro-settler nationalists, secular right-wingers, Islamists, centrist, and left-wing greens, Bennett has so far managed to keep his government together, even approving a state budget for the first time in three years (though it has not yet passed a crucial Knesset vote).

The trip to the US — Bennett’s first as prime minister — was supposed to be his coming out moment. He would firm up his image as a national leader during a joint appearance with Biden in the Oval Office, proving to Israel that his style and temperament were far better suited to handling ties with a Democratic administration than those of his more combative predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu.

Bennett made clear that he believed his successes thus far were due to much more than luck. He indicated that he thought his approach to keeping his unwieldy coalition together could be the centerpiece of his relationship with the Biden administration.

“I bring from Israel a new spirit,” Bennett said before his meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday, returning to a theme he introduced before boarding a plane for Washington. “A spirit of folks who sometimes harbor different opinions, but can work together in cooperation and goodwill, in a spirit of unity, and we work hard to find common things we do agree upon and move forward on, and it seems to be working.”

The trip itself was something of a risk for Bennett, coming during another COVID-19 wave that threatens to put a damper on the upcoming Jewish holidays and undermine a central line of attack he pursued against Netanyahu. He was also flying in late August, when Congress is on recess and much of the DC political milieu is off on vacation in less swampy climes.

But Bennett’s luck seemed to hold during the first 24 hours of his trip. The unlikely prime minister sped through the streets of Maryland and Washington DC in a massive convoy, as police and Secret Service shut down the heart of America’s capital to make sure Bennett reached his hotel and appointments on time.

An honor guard at the Pentagon snapped to attention as he arrived for his meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

And his meetings with Austin and........

© The Times of Israel


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