A political source told The Times of Israel on condition of anonymity that Bennett had renewed negotiations with Likud due to the emergency, and teams from both sides met on Thursday.
Until the conflict with Gaza erupted this week and Judeo-Arab violence ensued, Bennett was at an advanced stage of forming a power-sharing government with Lapid, with the backing of the Islamist Raam party.
However, Ra’am halted the talks as the conflict with Hamas in Gaza escalated.
Bennett said in private talks Thursday that he believed an Arab party-dependent government could not meet the challenges ahead.
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“When there is a wave of pogroms by Arabs across the country, and when IDF forces need to be involved, it is a reality changing event,” he said, according to the source. “The ‘government of change’ being formed will not be able to cope with this.”
He said the security situation was the top priority and that he was working to form a “broad government of national unity”.
Channel 12 reported that Bennett had struck a deal with Netanyahu and Abbas for Yamina and Ra’am to support the prime minister’s initiative to hold direct elections for the prime minister, which Netanyahu was seeking as a way out of the box. political stalemate and cement its power.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, speaks with then-Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked in the Knesset, December 21, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)
As part of the announced deal, Bennett and his number 2 Ayelet Shaked would get reserved spots on Netanyahu’s Likud party electoral roll and be appointed defense and foreign ministers.
According to Hebrew media, Bennett’s volte face was imposed by Shaked, who told her she would not be in the planned coalition with Likud due to the outbreak of fighting with Hamas and escalation of internal Arab-Jewish violence in Israel. A Kan radio report said that Netanyahu was aiming to secure the Likud Justice Ministry as part of the deal, as he sees to evading his corruption trial; hence the announced offer of the prized foreign ministry portfolio to Shaked, a former justice minister who hoped to regain the post.
It is still unclear what kind of coalition Netanyahu would hope to form, unless he can convince other parties, such as New Hope, to join him. New Hope has vowed before and since the last election not to do so, but could face further pressure to reverse his position due to the national crisis. On Thursday night, New Hope said there had been a change in position. Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party MPs said he was also sticking to the so-called change bloc
Reacting to Bennett’s decision, Lapid – who is currently tasked with forming a government and has until June 2 to do so – vowed to continue his efforts.
“Bennett is wrong, I will continue to turn every stone to form a government,” Lapid said at a press conference. “Change doesn’t happen when it’s practical, but when the path is right. I will continue to work to form a government, and if necessary, we will go to more elections and win. “
Ra’am party leader Mansour Abbas told Channel 12 that Bennett had informed him of his decision. He said he was not ruling out supporting direct elections and that the party would consider such a proposal if it included a deal that would be sufficiently beneficial to the Arab public.
Abbas had said earlier Thursday that all coalition negotiations with his party to help establish a government would remain frozen due to continued violence between Jewish and Arab Israelis across the country.
“Now is not the time,” he told Army Radio, after the worst night of internal Judeo-Arab violence in years, with scenes of riots, hate rallies and Social chaos spreading to many cities, some of which were once seen as symbols of coexistence.
“You have to be calm,” Abbas said, condemning the violence on both sides. While he hasn’t ruled out joining a government formed by Lapid, Abbas said it was a question he couldn’t think about at the moment.
“Right now, I prefer to focus on the crisis we are going through and after that we can talk about politics,” he said. “There are no political contacts at the moment.”
Wednesday saw the worst night of internal Judeo-Arab chaos in years, with scenes of riots, hate rallies and growing social chaos spreading to many cities, many of which had been seen as models of coexistence.
Violence between the Jewish and Arab communities arose out of clashes in Jerusalem surrounding the Muslim month of Ramadan and clashes on the Temple Mount, and peaked as Israel embarked on an escalation of clashes with groups terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
At the same time, Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip have been firing rocket barrages at Israeli communities since Monday, killing seven people in Israel and injuring dozens.
While Netanyahu’s Likud had sought to use the situation to extricate the right-wing Yamina and New Hope parties from the anti-Netanyahu coalition, sources from those parties noted that there was more than three weeks left for the negotiations window, and insisted on Tuesday that talks could continue if the violence ceased quickly.
A Channel 13 report on Monday claimed a new coalition was all but finalized when the violence escalated, with Bennett set to take on the prime minister’s post and Lapid replacing him under a more rotating deal. late in the term. Lapid and Bennett reportedly intended to tell President Reuven Rivlin on Monday evening that they had succeeded in assembling a coalition, which would have counted on Ra’am’s support for his majority, and that she could be sworn in next week. .