In an interview released Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, “threatened” him last year when he was seeking to remove the senior leader.
Bennett, a Jewish nationalist, was elected prime minister in June 2021 after forming a coalition of parties spanning from the right to the left, as well as Arab Islamic conservatives, to end Netanyahu’s 12-year reign.
“It was really difficult for me to establish the government.” I had a good idea of where I was headed. “I knew I was going to face the mother of all wars,” Bennett told Haaretz.
Bennett stated that he had been talking with Netanyahu in May as the long-serving Prime Minister fought hard to retain power, but that their negotiations had met a snag.
“He really threatened me when he realized I wasn’t going to allow him drag Israel into a fifth election,” Bennett recalled.
“‘Listen,’ he said to me, ‘If I understand right what you’re about to do, you should know that I am going to turn my entire machine on you, the army,” he claimed, repeating Netanyahu’s words.
According to Haaretz, Netanyahu followed his remarks with an arm motion resembling “an airplane descending for an assault.”
Bennett claims that the former prime minister informed him, “‘I will send the drones at you, and we’ll see.'”
Bennett said that by making those statements, Netanyahu was threatening to unleash “his army of bots” of broadcasters from television, radio, and social media against him.
“I felt a shift come over me. “I understood that everything was lying on my shoulders,” Bennett said, adding that Netanyahu’s re-election “would have sent us into a catastrophic spiral.”
“I realize this sounds grandiose, but I believe we rescued the state,” he continued.
Bennett’s coalition secured a parliamentary majority of 60 votes to 59 in June last year, allowing him to establish a government.
Bennett, a tech billionaire, was formerly a Netanyahu buddy.
After losing the top office, the hardline former prime minister found himself embroiled in court fights regarding corruption.
Netanyahu is on trial for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, and if convicted, he may face prison time. He has categorically denied any misconduct.
“I don’t want to see Netanyahu in prison, wearing a prison uniform.” “It’s not an image that would make him or the people of this nation appreciate him,” Bennett told Haaretz.
On Monday, Netanyahu disputed claims that he had reached an agreement with prosecutors that would require him to resign from politics.