Naftali Bennett, the leader of the right-wing Yamina party, is reportedly not speaking with Yair Lapid, the leader of the centrist Yesh Atid, the largest party in the “change bloc” of factions opposed to Benjamin Netanyahu.
Bennett refuses to pledge to oust Netanyahu unless he obtains the prominent position, which Lapid will not cede, Channel 13 reported on Monday.
Despite the ambitious request, Bennett told fellow party members and close activists that he remains committed to ensuring that Israel does not head for a fifth round of elections in two years, Channel 12 reported. News.
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Yesh Atid won 17 seats in the election last week, while Yamina only got seven.
Yesh leader Atid Yair Lapid and his wife Lihi voted at a polling station in Tel Aviv on March 23, 2021. (Noam Revkin Fenton / Flash90)
Lapid has reportedly received a boost in his bid for prime minister of the predominantly Arab Joint List party, which five of the six members are expected to recommend for the role, public broadcaster Kan reported on Monday.
However, the nationalist Balad faction of the Joint List will in no way recommend Lapid as prime minister, and its leader is not expected to attend a meeting later this week between the heads of the Joint List and Lapid, the radio reported. ‘army.
MP Ahmad Tibi, leader of the Ta’al Joint List faction, told Channel 13 that he would meet Lapid this week, noting that his party will never recommend Netanyahu.
“For us it crosses a red line,” said Tibi, referring to Netanyahu’s partners Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir of the far-right religious Zionism party.
Religious Zionism won six seats in the election, making it a key part of Netanyahu’s quest to stay in power.
A lingering question mark in coalition-building efforts has been Mansour Abbas, the leader of the Islamist Ra’am party, who split from the joint list in the election and apparently plays the role of maker King’s. Abbas, although he has indicated he can support Netanyahu, said he would not do so if religious Zionism was part of the coalition.
Abbas intends to issue a high-profile press release in the coming days, with Channel 12 reporting that he intends to re-commit to supporting cooperation with the Jewish majority in Israel and seek to further legitimize his party’s option to be part of a ruling coalition. .
Many key politicians, including Netanyahu, Bennett de Yamina, New Hope leader Gideon Saar and religious Zionist leader Bezalel Smotrich, had in recent weeks ruled out cooperation with Ra’am.
However, some Likud lawmakers considered the option of teaming up with Ra’am after last week’s elections, which saw the prime minister and his right-wing religious allies once again fall short of a majority.
Lapid met with Benny Gantz, who heads the centrist Blue and White party on Sunday evening, as he continued his efforts to build a coalition.
Gantz and Lapid discussed ways to form a new government at their meeting, according to a statement from Yesh Atid. They were to hold new talks in the days to come.
The two were Blue and White’s political allies, but they had a bitter row last year when Gantz decided to join Netanyahu in a unity government, citing the need for a functioning government during the pandemic, but breaking his central campaign promise. Lapid went to the opposition.
Sunday’s meeting was the first since the acrimonious split.
Gantz sent an appeal to Lapid, Saar and Bennett on Monday, telling them the four must meet and find a way to form a new government without Netanyahu. “I called on the leaders of the change bloc to sit [together] as soon as possible, so that we can establish an honest government and end Netanyahu’s rule, ”Gantz said.
Lapid, Saar and Bennett on Monday night had yet to respond to Gantz’s call, Channel 12 reported.
Across the aisle, further weakening Netanyahu’s prospects, half of the ultra-Orthodox Unified Torah Judaism party, long a staunch ally of the prime minister, have reportedly refused to declare their support for him.
Netanyahu turned to Moshe Gafni, leader of the UTJ’s Degel HaTorah faction, and asked for his support on Sunday, but Gafni replied that he needed “time to think,” state broadcaster Kan reported. .
Yet MK Yaakov Litzman, who heads the Agudat Yisrael faction of the UTJ, noted that his party’s announcement “informed the public ahead of the election that we would go with Netanyahu, so there is no question. here”.
He added that his party’s goal is “to establish a right-wing coalition for all Israeli citizens.” Everything else is spin. ”
Neither pro nor anti-Netanyahu blocs have a clear path to forming a majority coalition after Tuesday’s vote, the fourth national election in two years. However, the prospect of a fifth election has sparked speculation that unlikely bedfellows may come together in an attempt to oust Netanyahu or allow him to retain power.