The day Netanyahu turned out the lights on Naftali Bennett’s government

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Assessment: Unrelenting pressure from the Likud chief pulled apart Bennett’s own Yamina party, clearing a path for Israel’s record-breaking leader to rise yet again …

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu hails the collapse of the Bennett-Lapid coalition, at the Knesset in Jerusalem on June 20, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In a scene that no scriptwriter would have attempted, as outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced the collapse of his coalition on Monday night, the lights went out in the Knesset hall where he and his leadership colleague Yair Lapid were addressing the nation.

Bennett was promising an “orderly handover” of power to Lapid, who will take over as interim prime minister ahead of elections tentatively expected in October, and was reminding the public that “there’s a country to run,” when the room was briefly plunged into darkness.

“How symbolic,” murmured Lapid, wryly, at his side.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu hails the collapse of the Bennett-Lapid coalition, at the Knesset in Jerusalem on June 20, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

For a year and one week, the most improbable coalition in Israel’s history attempted, in Bennett’s depiction on Monday night, to brighten governance and “restore national dignity,” with its eight constituent parties, from all the way across the spectrum, promising to put aside key ideological differences and drag the country out of political darkness.

In what amounted to his farewell speech, Bennett set out a list of that government’s achievements — including reviving the economy from the ravages of COVID, tackling a wave of terrorism, and preventing a return to the 2015 Iran deal without harming ties with the United States.

But most importantly, in his summation, his coalition championed “decency, trust… and a culture of togetherness.” In that vein, Bennett spoke with real warmth and regard for his “mensch” of a coalition partner Lapid, who reciprocated: “I want to thank you for our friendship; I love you very much.”

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