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Bennett, Netanyahu exchange insults as anti-Likud coalition talks restart

CM 23/05/2021

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Yamina leader Naftali Bennett called upon party leaders on Sunday to make compromises following the anti-Hamas Operation Guardian of the Walls 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 Prime Minister Benjamin 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.”
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid‘s mandate to form a government ends on June 2. If he fails to form a government by then, there will be 21 days in which any MK can draft the support of 61 Knesset members to build a coalition. If no one succeeds, Israel will have another election.
Lapid will be meeting party leaders from 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.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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