The demand from Netanyahu’s two main allies and his Likud party came as Yesh Atid MP Yair Lapid and Yamina leader Naftali Bennett continued their efforts to build a majority coalition following the inconclusive elections in March, making significant progress.
In a letter to Netanyahu, the two UTJ members said four inconclusive elections failed to produce a right-wing government as they had hoped and that if the current political stalemate resulted in a fifth vote , that would mean the defeat of the right. and religious parties in the Knesset.
They urged Netanyahu to step down for the first year and a half of a coalition and then return to office later.
“For the past two years, and in four rounds of elections, ultra-Orthodox and religious parties have supported the Likud-led bloc, with the intention of establishing a strong right-wing government on the basis of values and tradition, unfortunately unsuccessful, ”the lawmakers wrote.
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Noting that they understand Netanyahu’s willingness to persevere in his bloc in order to prevent the right-center-left bloc from forming a government, they wrote: right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties. “
“The only way to prevent a left government and also to prevent elections is a clear statement from you, before a left government is established, which you will grant to someone from the right bloc, who will manage to unite 65 of the right-wing MPs, the prime minister for the first year and a half in rotation, ”they wrote, referring to the number of Knesset lawmakers from right-wing parties, minus the secular right-wing party Yisrael Beytenu.
Porush and Eichler said that during this time Netanyahu would be able to continue as acting prime minister and focus his efforts on diplomacy with the Biden administration in the United States, regional peace efforts and developments regarding the United States. talks to relaunch the Iranian nuclear deal with world powers. .
Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid holds a press conference in Tel Aviv on May 6, 2021 (Avshalom Sassoni / FLASH90)
In April, Hebrew media said ultra-Orthodox lawmakers warned Netanyahu that they would not follow him to a fifth round of elections. It was not clear whether the warning came from UJT party members or Shas.
The March elections left the Knesset divided between the right-wing and religious bloc led by Netanyahu and the change bloc, which includes two right-wing parties, New Hope and Yisrael Beytenu, who have vowed to see Netanyahu ousted.
Neither bloc has a majority in the Knesset, but overall the House is right-wing. Without Netanyahu as prime minister, New Hope would join Netanyahu’s bloc. Although Yamina is also right-wing, he had said it would be fine with his rivals if he failed to muster a majority in the Knesset, in order to avoid another round of voting.
The letter came as Lapid and Bennett continued their almost round-the-clock efforts to negotiate a coalition deal between themselves and the disparate members of the so-called change party bloc.
Bennett met with Raam leader Mansour Abbas on Sunday for talks on gaining support from the Arab Islamist party in forming a government with Lapid.
Yamina called the meeting “good” and said the two discussed “various possibilities”.
“It has been agreed that the negotiating teams will keep in touch and meet in the future,” Yamina said in a statement.
Ahead of the meeting, Hebrew media reported that Abbas was to demand in return for his support the chairmanship of a Knesset committee for Arab affairs as well as another important Knesset committee, which a future government would recognize three. currently unrecognized Bedouin communities in the Negev region. , and that a new city for the Arab population be established in the south.
The future unity government being negotiated between Yamina, Yesh Atid and parties opposed to Netanyahu will likely need Ra’am to vote in favor of their coalition or to abstain for it to be sworn in with more votes of support than those who oppose it.
Lapid, who last week received the presidential mandate to try to form a government, is leading the negotiations on behalf of the so-called “change bloc”. The parties are believed to have agreed that Bennett would serve as prime minister for the first two years of government, Lapid for the last two.
These coalition-building efforts are hanging by a thread, however, as Yamina lawmaker MP Amichai Chikli announced last week that he would oppose such a government because it means installing Lapid in the government. Prime Minister and join forces with the left-wing Meretz party. Opposition from any other MP could potentially derail a deal: Without Chikli, the potential change bloc, including Yamina, has 57 seats in parliament, compared to 53 (including Chikli) for parties supporting Netanyahu.
The predominantly Arab Common List party does not intend to vote in favor of the emerging coalition because it would see Bennett installed as prime minister and because Bennett opposes the party’s inclusion in the government, Haaretz reported.
Yamina doesn’t expect other lawmakers to break ranks and oppose the establishment of a Bennett-Lapid government, but if it does, the bloc seeks support from some of the parties. who make up the Common List alliance, according to the report. .
As Lapid and Bennett worked to build their coalition, they also opposed attacks by Netanyahu, who preemptively called their government “leftist.” Netanyahu shared reports in Hebrew media on Sunday, based on remarks by Likud Whip MP Miki Zohar, who claimed the couple planned to appoint former Attorney General Shai Nitzan as attorney general after the resignation of the current Avichai Mandelblit. Bennett and Lapid categorically denied that there was any truth to this claim.
“There are no words, Netanyahu, because there is no truth [to it]Bennett tweeted, suggesting it was the Prime Minister himself who was behind the rumor.
“There is no agreement on the issue of Shai Nitzan; his name was not mentioned in the negotiations at all, “Lapid tweeted and wrote that Netanyahu” as usual blatantly lies. Shameful. “
Nitzan was a district attorney when corruption charges were brought against Netanyahu, who is currently on trial.
Yamina also rejected reports that the coalition deal included a freeze on settlement building in the West Bank, a move that the Zionist Nationalist Party strongly supports.
Netanyahu and his Likud party are pressuring Yamina as a whole, as well as individual MPs, not to join Lapid in forming a government, with efforts to get other lawmakers in Bennett’s right-wing party to adopt Chikli’s position.
In addition to political pressure from Likud, lawmakers in Yamina are also targeted by right-wing activists.
Bennett filed a complaint with the Knesset guard on Sunday after announcements of his death were shared on social media. A Likud supporter wrote that Bennett should “fall dead” and called him a “traitor”.
In addition, Ayelet Shaked, Yamina’s No.2 MP, was forced to get a new cell phone after being bombarded with nasty messages from Likud and other right-wingers. activists, Reported the Twelfth Channel.
Among the messages, hundreds called on Shaked not to join the future “government of change” of anti-Netanyahu parties, according to the report.
“Burn in hell,” one such message said, according to a screenshot posted by the network.
Right-wing activists demonstrated outside the homes of Shaked and other Yamina lawmakers on Saturday night.
Last week, the Knesset guard stepped up security around Bennett, apparently after receiving death threats.
If Lapid fails to build a coalition during his 28-day window, which ends on June 2, any member of the Knesset could try to get the approval of a majority of lawmakers for the prime minister’s post. If that 21-day period does not result in a coalition, the country would be forced into the unprecedented scenario of a fifth election in two and a half years.