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Netanyahu declines to offer Bennett rotation in secret meeting

CM 02/05/2021

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a secret meeting with Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem on Thursday in an effort to form a right-wing government before Netanyahu’s mandate from President Reuven Rivlin ends on Tuesday night, sources close to Bennett confirmed Sunday.Neither party agreed to reveal the content of the meeting, but one side told The Jerusalem Post that Netanyahu did not offer Bennett to go first in a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office.Ideas that have been floated in Likud include initiating a direct election in which Netanyahu and Bennett would both be candidates for prime minister and Likud recommending to Rivlin that Bennett receive the second mandate so that Bennett could form a government with Netanyahu.“We have nothing to say about the negotiations,” a Likud spokesman said.The leak that the meeting took place was seen as an attempt by Bennett to pressure opposition leader Yair Lapid to accept his demand that ideological portfolios such as Justice, Education, Interior and Religious Services go to MKs from Yamina and New Hope and not to Labor or Meretz.Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked is demanding a return to the Justice Ministry, but she is said to be willing to settle for becoming interior minister.Sources in the so-called change camp warned Bennett “not to fall into Netanyahu’s trap.”

A key test for Bennett will be whether his representative in the Knesset presidium, Deputy Knesset Speaker Matan Kahana, supports enabling a vote in the Knesset plenum on the bill for direct election of prime minister that Netanyahu strongly supports.Bennett and other party leaders are expected to make public remarks in the Knesset on Monday.Defense Minister Benny Gantz told his Blue and White faction on Sunday that he had “slammed the door shut on Netanyahu” and was loyal to those trying to replace him.Much of the focus at the Knesset on Monday will be the special plenary session in which all 120 MKs will be invited to speak about the Mount Meron tragedy.Flags at the Knesset were lowered to half-mast, and a special ceremony was held on Sunday morning. MKs were invited to light candles in the lobby in honor of the victims. Sunday was declared a national day of mourning.New legislation submitted to the Knesset on Sunday would provide immediate financial assistance to the victims of the Meron tragedy. The bill, submitted by MK Yaakov Asher (United Torah Judaism), would form a ministerial committee that will set the levels of government stipends to families of the victims based on parameters entailed in the bill, including the age of the victims and the number of victims in a family.The legislation would help families of both those killed and wounded in the disaster.
Source: Jerusalem Post

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