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Bennett, Lapid prime minister rotation back on the table

CM 23/05/2021

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Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid‘s offer to Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett to go first in a rotation replacing Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister returned to the forefront on Sunday, as sources in the two parties said they expected an agreement to be finalized by the end of the week.
Bennett withdrew his support for a government of change on May 13. But The Jerusalem Post reported exclusively two days later that it was just a tactical maneuver to ease pressure on the party’s leaders during Operation Guardian of the Walls and that Bennett would return ahead of the June 2 deadline for Lapid to form a government. 
Negotiating teams of Likud and Yamina met over the weekend. The Likud’s offer to Bennett was to serve as defense minister after Netanyahu announced two weeks earlier that he had offered Bennett to go first in a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office. The Likud also rescinded its previous offer to Bennett’s number two, MK Ayelet Shaked, to serve as foreign minister in a Likud-led government. 
Sources close to Shaked said on Sunday night that even though she preferred a coalition with Likud, she would not split Yamina if Bennett decides to form a government with Lapid. Yamina MK Abir Kara is pushing Bennett to form a government of change. 
A poll broadcast on Channel 12 broadcast on Sunday found that Yamina would win only five seats and barely cross the electoral threshold if new elections would be held. The Likud would 30 seats, Yesh Atid 21, Blue and White ten, Shas nine, Religious Zioinist Party and United Torah Judaism seven, Labor, Yisrael Beytenu and New Hope six, Joint List and Yamina five and Meretz and Ra’am (United Arab List) four.   
Lapid met with Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz and Labor leader Michaeli on Sunday evening and Yesh Atid will negotiate with parties in its his camp on Monday in an effort to make progress toward coalition agreements. There have been no contacts between Bennett and Lapid since Bennett withdrew his support for a government of change ten days ago.
Bennett called upon party leaders on Sunday to make compromises and to prevent a fifth election in under two-and-a-half years. Bennett’s associates declined to say to whom his message was specifically addressed, though a strong possibility is New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar, who has refused to enter a government in which Netanyahu rotates as prime minister.
“Whoever drags Israel to a fifth election, to more poison and hate, to another year of the state not being able to function, to wasting huge sums of money plays into the hands of those who want to harm us,” Bennett wrote in a long post on Facebook. “That would be one mistake too many. This is the time for all of us to make an effort… There remain a number of options for forming a government, if we just rescind our boycotts and understand the importance of the moment.”A source close to Sa’ar said he was aware that the New Hope leader was the intended target of the message but that he would not respond.Bennett did not reveal what options he referred to. He said the war with Hamas proved that neither Netanyahu nor Left was the enemy of Israel.Most of Bennett’s message was an attack on Netanyahu’s handling of the war on matters of security and public diplomacy. He said the prime minister’s decisions were tainted by personal and political considerations and “a smokescreen of worshipping the leader” and that Netanyahu had made poor decisions and appointments.”I don’t remember a time of such weakness, a lack of functioning and national embarrassment,” Bennett wrote. “We should not be surprised: The writing was on the wall.”The Likud hit back, slamming Bennett and Sa’ar for “talking right-wing, but acting left-wing” and urging them to rule out joining a left-wing government.”Only a right-wing government led by Prime Minister Netanyahu can successfully confront the wide-range of challenges Israel faces,” the party said in a statement that Netanyau retweeted. “Not a left-wing government dependent on the Joint List and in whose security cabinet sit [Meretz leader] Nitzan Horowitz, [Meretz faction head] Tamar Zandberg and [Labor chairwoman] Merav Michaeli.”

The Likud said Bennett and Sa’ar were continuing to turn leftward.”Even after Hamas’s murderous attacks, the violent riots in Israel and renewed talk of a Palestinian state that will turn into a massive Hamastan, these politicians continue to work to establish a government that will be dependant on the Joint List and left-wing parties like Lapid, Meretz and Labor,” Netanyahu’s party said.Likud faction chairman Miki Zohar added, “there is Right and there is Left. Bennett and Sa’ar, the time has come for you to choose a side.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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