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Netanyahu denies planning exit strategy from PMO

CM 10/04/2021

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A report that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will offer his job to Yamina leader Naftali Bennett first in a rotation or hold a primary to elect his replacement in Likud if no other solution is found soon was denied on Saturday night by Netanyahu’s spokesman.In what was seen as a trial balloon, the Israel Hayom newspaper, which is considered close to Netanyahu, reported on Friday that Netanyahu’s associates are already saying that if his mandate goes down to the wire without success in building a coalition, those two possibilities would be considered.”They are not real,” the spokesman said of the two options reported. “We have denied the report.”According to the report, if Netanyahu would let Bennett go first in a rotation, it would be on the condition that Netanyahu serve as alternate prime minister and remain in the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem. Another condition would be that Netanyahu would get to go first in the rotation if the Supreme Court ruled he could not serve as alternate prime minister due to his three criminal indictments.   The report said that Bennett could get New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar to join the government if it was first led by him and not Netanyahu. But Sa’ar has denied that he would be willing to enter a coalition led by Bennett if there was a rotation with Netanyahu. But the second possibility in the report – that someone else in Likud form a government – has been endorsed by Sa’ar and would receive New Hope’s backing. Coalition chairman Miki Zohar (Likud), who is close to Netanyahu, said he was unaware of any plans for an exit strategy from the Prime Minister’s Office.President Reuven Rivlin gave Netanyahu a four-week mandate on Tuesday that ends on May 4. Netanyahu’s mandate could legally be extended by two weeks, but that is not expected to happen. The more likely scenario is that Rivlin would give the mandate to Bennett or to Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid, who have negotiated a rotation as prime minister between them.

No breakthrough was reached in Thursday’s meetings of Netanyahu with Bennett and with Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich. The Likud will continue putting pressure on Smotrich to agree to join a coalition backed from outside by the Ra’am (United Arab List) Party, which may be the only way Netanyahu could form a government. In an effort to woo Smotrich, Netanyahu is considering asking Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas to deliver another speech in which he denounces terror, KAN TV reported. Channel 12 reported on Saturday night that Netanyahu told confidants that Bennett had already reached a deal with Lapid. The report quoted sources close to Netanyahu saying “Smotrich is not the problem. Bennett is the one who is not serious.”Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman told Channel 12’s Meet the Press program on Saturday that Bennett was wrong to consider joining a Netanyahu-led government.”If Bennett goes with Bibi, he needs to watch his back, because Netanyahu will to finish him off politically,” Liberman said.
Source: Jerusalem Post

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