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A changing of the guard, as Bennett’s new government hits the ground running

8 11 0
22.06.2021

The sign on the wall outside the cabinet meeting room on the top floor of the Prime Minister’s Office still bore the name of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet secretary, Tzachi Braverman.

But as the press corps stood in the hallway on Sunday morning, waiting for the first working meeting of the new cabinet, it was Prime Minister Naftali Bennett who strode across the hall with his entourage.

Just moments later, the ministers of the 36th government were settled in their seats and ready for the start of the meeting.

It was not a celebratory gathering, such as the one that took place last week in the immediate aftermath of the government’s swearing-in ceremony at the Knesset. Instead, the cabinet assembled to show it is ready to tackle the issues that affect the everyday lives of Israelis.

It wasn’t a moment to be taken for granted, watching a group of relatively young ministers from across the political spectrum surround Bennett in the same manner that we watched ministers surround Netanyahu for the past 12 years.

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The moment marked a generational change — a new era in Israeli politics. The all-so-familiar baritone and self-assurance of Netanyahu’s Sunday morning statements are over, for now at least.

All those who were present in the room, and indeed outside it too, must instead get used to Bennett’s measured tone, which was at times hesitant, but always fully aware of the importance of the moment in Israeli history.

Braverman, the former cabinet secretary who is a Netanyahu loyalist, has not yet been replaced, so running the meeting in his stead was Interim Cabinet Secretary Lior Nathan.

In the hallways of the Prime Minister’s Office, the old guard normally found around Netanyahu was also nowhere to be seen. Instead, there were the fresh faces of the relatively young political operatives, unable or unwilling to hide their excitement, adrenaline running high during their first few days on the job.

Shimrit Meir, 41, Bennett’s new diplomatic adviser, made her way into the chambers with her hands full of documents and folders. Needless to say, she is the first woman to take on that crucial job.

Matan Sidi, 25, Bennett’s personal spokesperson, was seen on the sidelines of the cabinet conference room, having served as an aide to the Yamina leader through all four election cycles, including in the 2019 election, when Bennett’s and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked’s New Right party failed to cross the electoral threshold, leading Bennett to........

© The Times of Israel


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