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Netanyahu hasn’t offered Bennett rotation as prime minister

CM 26/04/2021

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not offered Yamina leader Naftali Bennett a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office, as he has to Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin (Likud), Shas leader Aryeh Deri and Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz, sources involved in the efforts to form a government revealed to The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Bennett told his Yamina faction at the Knesset on Monday that his party would be willing to join a right-wing government that would not be led by Netanyahu. He called on both political camps to compromise and display responsibility. 
“Our preference is a right-wing government,” Bennett said. “Yamina would join any right-wing government formed by Netanyahu or led by another figure on the Right who has the ability to lead the government, whether they are from Likud or elsewhere.” 
Bennett said his second option is a unity government, which he continues to negotiate with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and other party leaders.
“The gaps are not small,” he said. “Unity is never easy, because there are very different worldviews. It requires a lot of restraint. I can’t guarantee the efforts will bear fruit. But we’ll leave no stone unturned to prevent elections.” 
A source knowledgeable regarding negotiations between Lapid and Bennett said two issues in which there are still wide gaps are settlements and the legal system. The source said that portfolios, the Right-Left balance and matters of religion and state are no longer serious problems in the negotiations.
Lapid told his faction that an agreement between the parties could be closed within a week. 

In a dramatic turn of events, with his back to the wall, Netanyahu made offers to let Deri and Gantz go first in a rotation as prime minister,
In recent days, Netanyahu offered to let Deri serve as prime minister for a year in a rotation agreement, but Deri refused the offer, according to Israel Hayom. Despite Deri’s refusal, Likud officials attempted to convince him to accept the deal, Shas officials said, according to the report.
Deri served 22 months in jail after being convicted of taking bribes as interior minister in the 1990s. The MK is facing another run-in with the law, as Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit announced in January that he would likely indict Deri for tax fraud.
On Sunday, Blue and White Party officials confirmed a Channel 12 report stating that Netanyahu had made a similar offer to Gantz.
New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar declined to take questions in his faction meeting on Monday about whether his party could join a government with a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office in which Netanyahu does not go first. 
Army Radio reported on Monday morning that Sa’ar had ruled out such a possibility, because even as alternate prime minister, Netanyahu would retain his strong influence over the government’s decisions.
But Sa’ar agreed to speak only generally about his party’s options.
“There are two possibilities,” Sa’ar told his faction. “There can be a right-wing government led by someone else [other than Netanyahu] or a unity government based on arrangements that will enable us to defend our values and our worldview.”
Sa’ar called to make every effort to build a government of change and avoid elections.
Asked if he is worried that Bennett and Sa’ar will abandon him at the last minute, Lapid said “I hope they do the right thing for Israel. They are patriots, and they will do what is right for Israel.” 
Lapid said he did not know whether he should be offended that Netanyahu had not offered him a rotation as prime minister. 
Labor leader Merav Michaeli warned that Netanyahu could call upon right-wing party leaders to enter the government “to deal with a security situation that he purposely started.”
Michaeli said Bennett should help remove Netanyahu from office. Labor MK Omer Bar-Lev has said that Michaeli is fit to be foreign minister.
Asked if she would feel comfortable explaining the policies of Bennett, she said the government formed would not be right-wing and her party will feel comfortable joining and explaining its policies.
“I believe I can explain it as long as we replace Netanyahu,” she said.  
Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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