Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked, Uri Ariel and their fellow Habayit Hayehudi Knesset members took pains to persuade voters that they would prop up the prime minister from the right. Many will recall the campaign billboards showing Netanyahu and Bennett side by side.
Many of my fellow religious Zionists, including residents of Judea and Samaria, sincerely believed that Habayit Hayehudi would make sure the nationalist camp stayed in power. This nationalist camp would face off against a world that is hostile to continued settlement in Judea and Samaria and the unification of Jerusalem. It would defend Israel's security during troubled times and preserve Jewish values against those who have grown tired of their Judaism. Habayit Hayehudi's success in the elections was based on voters' belief in these lofty promises.
But Habayit Hayehudi voters have woken up to find that their party is changing direction and actually blocking the establishment of a nationalist government. The party might actually thwart the nationalist camp's chance to lead the country in the spirit of national and religious Zionism. This is not the first time that Knesset members from the nationalist camp have actually brought down a right-wing government and helped to give power to the instigators of the cursed Oslo Accords. Enemies in the Palestinian Authority have noticed the weakening of Israel's Right and are egging on the next intifada. The residents of Judea and Samaria may once again find themselves on the battlefront.
The alliance between Yair Lapid and Bennett is a strange one. It is an alliance of momentary self-interest between two good men, who until a few weeks ago realized that to lead the state of Israel, you need security and diplomatic experience. Anyone can lead when the sailing is smooth, but you need an experienced captain in stormy waters. Now, suddenly, Lapid and Bennett have convinced themselves of their ability to lead Israel, before even proving their abilities to manage large public and national institutions. Real leadership does not mean trading in hope and illusions. In this world of falsehoods we inhabit, modesty is a rare virtue.
Bennett is wrong and misleading if he tries to persuade his voters that Lapid will stand by their side when they make decisions on difficult issues like the "peace process" or religion and state. Lapid's voters will be the first to raise a glass in Tel Aviv pubs for every Jew evacuated from his home or every Jewish symbol erased from the Israeli public square.
Bennett says he will not enter a government without Lapid, and Lapid insists he will not enter a government with the haredi parties. Every political novice understands that a government without haredim means no government of the nationalist camp. A government that is hostage to the Center-Left. Not to mention baseless hatred from someone who refers to everyone as "my brothers."
During the election campaign, the Likud took the wrong attitude toward Habayit Hayehudi. One must admit to one's own mistakes. It's possible that the prime minister made a mistake in not calling Bennett right away asking him to join a government of the nationalist camp. At the same time, all these ego games and the silent treatment are more suited to public relations flacks and campaign managers than to party leaders. Leaders, as everyone knows, should be able to rise above personal issues. There are moments in one's life, particularly in the life of a nation, when the party comes first, when a politician should set aside games of one-upmanship and look at the bigger picture. The national religious public will never forgive the man who sold out the future of the Land of Israel and its settlements to the Yesh Atid party.