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Pressure mounts on Bennett to form government of change

CM 24/05/2021

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Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid upgraded his efforts to woo Yamina leader Naftali Bennett on Monday to a government of change that would replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, using multiple political maneuvers.
Lapid sent Meretz MK Esawi Frej to submit a bill that would disperse the Knesset if a coalition cannot be built, so it would be clear to the public that it would be the fault of Bennett for not joining the government. Yesh Atid asked Likud to support the bill.
Yesh Atid also revealed that its negotiating team had made significant progress toward forming a coalition when it met with Yisrael Beytenu, Labor and Blue and White on Monday morning at Ramat Gan’s Kfar Maccabiah hotel and convention center.
Lapid told his Yesh Atid faction the chances of forming a government were still not high, but he would “leave no stone unturned” in trying. To that end, Lapid met personally on Sunday with Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz, Labor leader Merav Michaeli and New Hope chairman Gideon Sa’ar.
“In the coming days, I’ll do everything to form a government,” he said. “Anyone who wants to come and talk: My door is open. We’ll sit, we’ll talk, we’ll think together how to build the best possible government for the State of Israel and the citizens of Israel.”
Lapid said he had not spoken to Bennett recently and that he thought coalition talks could continue until the last moment before his mandate ends on June 2. Yesh Atid is trying to finish the deals with every party except Yamina and then present Bennett with a government on a silver platter.
But Bennett continued playing hard to get, telling his Yamina faction that a government of change was not possible. When The Jerusalem Post asked Bennett’s No. 2, MK Ayelet Shaked, after the meeting whether she thought a deal with her party could be completed in the week ahead, she said: “I don’t see it happening.”

Asked whether she felt an obligation to complete the process before the presidential election to allow President Reuven Rivlin to come full circle, she shook her head no.
Bennett’s associates said he was still hoping that Netanyahu could bring defectors from the change camp to Netanyahu’s bloc. But Likud faction chairman Miki Zohar admitted on Monday that “there are no defectors, and there will be no defectors.”
Sa’ar told Lapid he would not join a coalition without Yamina. He reiterated to his faction at the Knesset on Monday that his party would not join a Netanyahu-led government.
“Israel does not need more days and years of Netanyahu in power,” Sa’ar said. “It needs the opposite.”
Mocking Netanyahu for saying that “there are those who speak Right and act Left,” Sa’ar said the prime minister vowed to topple Hamas before he took over in 2009 and that he abandoned residents of development towns and peripheral communities.
Michaeli said she was making every effort to form a change government in any possible way and was meeting all the necessary party leaders, adding that they are all men. Speaking to her Labor faction, she said she would be happy if Bennett would join a change coalition and that she would consider speaking to Shaked, woman to woman, to close the deal.
Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz told his faction their constituency wants to replace the government regardless of Bennett’s behavior.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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