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Can Netanyahu lose to Bennett?

Can Netanyahu lose to Bennett?

“Bibi go home,” protesters chanted across Israel on Saturday night.Their angry voices will be followed Monday by the latest Knesset no-confidence motion filed by Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid.The weekly protests and the Knesset votes are fueled by the public fury with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s perceived failure to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. Together with a pending December budget vote, with its potential to bring down the government, the overall atmosphere appears to herald new elections.Although the election debate has been dominated by the Yesh Atid and Blue and White parties, Netanyahu’s most likely rival, according to the polls, would be Yamina Party head Naftali Bennett.He came within spitting distance of Netanyahu last week, when a Channel 12 poll showed that the difference between the two men stood at only three mandates.Netanyahu’s Likud party had dropped from 36 in the March 2020 election to 26; Bennett’s had risen from five to an astounding 23.Bennett and Netanyahu have long battled for leadership of the Israeli Right, but it had rarely seemed like a true contest.Netanyahu has excelled at casting himself as a broad-based leader. Bennett has looked like a pale shadow in comparison, with at best a solely partisan audience limited to issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.But Bennett’s perceived brief success in the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring while he was the defense minister catapulted him into the limelight suddenly as a politician with potentially wide appeal.Netanyahu’s refusal to make him health minister – and Bennett’s subsequent decision not to enter the government – has given him a pulpit by which to continually criticize Netanyahu on COVID-19 matters, while bearing no responsibility for the chaos in Netanyahu’s treatment of the pandemic.It has cast him for the first time as
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