The prime minister suffered another blow on Monday when a top-level staffer – spokesperson Matan Sidi – became the fourth official at the Prime Minister’s Office to resign in recent weeks.
The spokesperson’s resignation comes amid a wave of departures and reports of in-fighting at the Prime Minister Office. Such tensions have led to the resignation of Shimrit Meir, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s diplomatic advisor and his Chief of Staff Tal Gan Zvi, who had worked with the prime minister for a decade.
The two were rumored to not get along, given their differing visions for Bennett’s strategy and disputes over who is setting the tone.
According to local media reports, Meir had been pushing Bennett to appear more centrist in his approach to appeal to larger audience, whereas Gan Zvi advised him to remain loyal to his right-wing base.
Meir was the first one to leave the premier’s staff in mid-May and Gan Zvi followed her 10 days later.
Last week, Bennett’s personal aide, Naomi Sasson, announced that she was leaving. Sasson worked with Bennett since 2016.
Instability in the prime minister’s circle is only a secondary concern, compared to the instability surrounding his government. Bennett’s coalition is ruling with only 60 seats in a parliament of 120 and was dealt a major blow on Monday, losing a vote to extend emergency law to Israeli citizens living in the West Bank. The bill, which is set to expire by the end of June, must be renewed by the Knesset every five years.
Some lawmakers say this was the most crucial vote in parliament since the current government was sworn in on June 13, 2021.
The opposition vowed last week it will no longer support any coalition-sponsored legislation, even if its members are ideologically supportive, such as the Likud and Religious Zionism parties.
It lost the vote 52-58.
The opposition and its leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, are already engaged in efforts to undermine the government and replace it with a new one under his leadership. Local media outlets reported that members of Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s party, New Hope, negotiated with Netanyahu’s Likud party in order to prepare for such a scenario. The reports were publicly denied by Sa’ar.
Bennett's coalition has also been under fire, especially from his own party. On April 5, chairwoman of Bennett’s government coalition – Idit Silman – said she would no longer vote with the coalition.
A year ago, the first Knesset member in Bennett’s Yamina party, Amichai Chikli, defected.
Sidi will be replaced by Bennett's political spokesperson, Yotam Ben Yitzhak. Bennett praised Sidi for his service, knowledge and extraordinary abilities, in a statement.
"Despite his young age, he showed understanding, fluency and knowledge in the many areas I dealt with, along with extraordinary abilities in managing national events and complex communications crises,” Bennett said.
Sidi, 26, had been part of Bennett’s inner circle for four years. He thanked the Israeli premier for the opportunity, adding, “From him I have learned love of the people and the land, public mission and – mainly – withstanding the pressures and fighting for your beliefs when your heart is in the right place.”
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.