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Negotiations on unity government begin

CM 06/05/2021

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Coalition negotiation teams of Yesh Atid and Yamina convened formally for the first time on Thursday, a day after Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid received a four-week mandate to form a government from President Reuven Rivlin that ends on June 2.
Both teams want to reach an agreement as soon as possible, sources in the parties said after the meeting. But a meeting between Lapid and Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett has not yet been set.
“Bennett was right when he said that a unity government will prevent fifth elections but that’s only part of the story,” Lapid said at a Tel Aviv press conference. “The main aim, the main challenge, is to start something different – cleaner, decent and which actually works. We’re trying to create an alliance of honest and patriotic people. I believe in the good intentions of my future partners.”
Lapid singled out Bennett, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, New Hope chairman Gideon Sa’ar, Labor head Merav Michaeli, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman and Meretz chairman Nitzan Horowitz.
“They are different people with different views but the fact that someone doesn’t agree with us, doesn’t make them an enemy,” he said. “We all love our country from the bottom of our hearts. We all want to build, to repair and to create cooperation which we haven’t seen here for years. We all have a past, we all carry with us quotes which we regret, things we shouldn’t have said, opinions we’ve changed. I’ve got no intention to focus on that, anyone who wants to remain stuck in the past – that’s their problem.
“We’re not here to fight about the past but for the future.”
Lapid blasted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his attacks on the party leaders trying to replace him.

“As if to prove the need for unity, Prime Minister Netanyahu took to the airwaves and attacked us and tried to divide us,” Lapid said. “He went as low as possible. He attacked Naftali Bennett, Gideon Sa’ar, the Left and he attacked me with a style that shames the person and his position. That’s exactly what we want to change. We’ve had enough anger and hate. We’ve argued enough. Israel is hurting and it needs quiet, it needs unity, and it really needs a functioning government.”
Earlier, in a meeting of the Likud faction in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu warned that the government Bennett would form would give in to the international community. He called on Ayelet Shaked and other Yamina MKs to prevent a government with Lapid, reading quotes from her against Lapid, Labor and Meretz during the recent campaign.
“There is a shameful attempt to build a left-wing government with votes of the Right,” he told the faction.
Netanyahu also made a point of meeting the leaders of his political camp. The Right bloc leaders vowed to go to the opposition rather than join a government led by Bennett. They urged Bennett to shun Lapid and instead form a government with them when Lapid’s four week mandate ends.
Afterward at a press conference, the leaders of United Torah Judaism and Shas opened up a fierce broadside against Bennett and accused him of abandoning his principles due to his personal animosity for Netanyahu.
“You preached to us about how important the Land of Israel is,” fumed Gafni, whose United Torah Judaism Party has been steadfast in its devotion to its alliance with Netanyahu and the Likud.
“What will [Meretz MKs] Tamar Zandberg, Nitzan Horowitz, [Labor leader] Merav Michaeli, and Yes Atid do though? Will they protect the Land of Israel?” demanded Gafni in reference to the left-wing leaders.
“Bennett and Shaked – what will you say on Judgment Day? It seems like there is something more important than the Land of Israel. It appears that the hatred between Bennett and Sa’ar for Netanyahu is more important than the Torah, religion and state and the Land of Israel,” raged Gafni.
Shas chairman and Interior Minister Arye Deri said he sat for hours with Bennett while Netanyahu had the mandate to form a government, but said that Bennett did not agree to a draft proposal that was put forward to form a right-wing government.
Deri said that any government formed by the “bloc for change” with Bennett would be “a left-wing government” and said he was extremely concerned about Liberman becoming finance minister, describing him as “the greatest persecutor of ultra-Orthodox Judaism and religion.”
Said Deri: “I turn to you, Naftali. We came to an agreement which was nearly signed. There are 28 days… A right-wing government can be established once they know a left-wing government won’t happen.
“Don’t create a disconnect between the ultra-Orthodox and what you represent.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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