Although Yamina won just seven seats in the March election, Bennett has become a potential kingmaker and even a king.
As the deadline approached, Netanyahu said on Monday he was ready to step down as prime minister and let Bennett take the prime minister first in a rotation deal – a proposal immediately rejected by Bennett, who said in response that Netanyahu simply did not have the votes to form a coalition.
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Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Yair Lapid said he expected President Reuven Rivlin to task him with forming a government “if nothing surprising happens” before Tuesday night, but that he would be prepared to let Bennett serve as first prime minister in any rotation agreement between them.
Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett speaks at a faction meeting in the Knesset on April 26, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)
Channel 13 reported on Monday evening that Lapid had offered Bennett the first round of being prime minister in a power-sharing deal in which Bennett would serve for a period of two years and three months, after which he would be appointed minister of affairs. foreigners and Lapid would assume prime minister.
Lapid also promises a senior portfolio to Ayelet Shaked from Yamina (domestic or public security), and two or three additional portfolios for members of the right-wing party to seven MPs, if a government is formed.
Lapid is also ready to give Bennett’s right-wing bloc within a possible unity coalition broad veto powers, the network said.
Netanyahu, on the other hand, offered Bennett a year-long first round as prime minister under a rotation deal, a senior portfolio for Shaked, and Yamina eventually merged with Likud in a future. electoral race.
But Netanyahu also faces a problem, in that even with Yamina he would still need to base his government on Ra’am support from outside the coalition.
Ra’am is the key to Netanyahu’s hopes of staying in power and avoiding a fifth straight round of elections. In a rare gesture for an Arab Israeli politician, leader Mansour Abbas expressed his willingness to support a right-wing government in order to advance his community’s legislative priorities.
And on Monday, in an apparent move to the Israeli right, Abbas implicitly condemned a recent Palestinian terror attack at Tapuah Junction in the West Bank that injured three Israeli yeshiva students.
Yet religious Zionism party leader Bezalel Smotrich – whose seven seats are the key to any right-wing government led by Netanyahu – is staunchly opposed to any government that relies on Ra’am for support.
“We will not be a partner in any government that actively or by abstention relies on Ra’am or other supporters of terrorism,” Smotrich said last month.
Channel 12 said Smotrich was not convinced by Abbas’ remarks.
Bennett held a late-night meeting with Abbas on Monday, Ynet reported, their second since the March 23 election.
The meeting took place amid reports that, faced with pressure from Netanyahu, Abbas last week met with Rabbi Chaim Druckman, a spiritual leader of the national-religious camp. Public broadcaster Kan reported that the two met for an hour at Druckman’s home, but subsequently Druckman decided that the national-religious camp would not sit in a government dependent on Ra’am.
However, in a statement to the national religious website Kipa, Druckman denied meeting with Abbas, saying he was still “determined not to form a government with them.”
Yamina number two Shaked revealed on Monday, in tapes of a closed meeting, that the party preferred to go with Netanyahu and a right-wing government, but was also determined not to go to a fifth election, even if that meant forming a unit. government with Lapid.
His remarks included harsh words about Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, whom she described as “dictators” and “tyrants” with a “thirst for power,” and said the prime minister didn’t care. than his ongoing corruption trial.
It is expected that if Netanyahu fails to form the government, Rivlin will hire Lapid with the task.
Netanyahu had the first opportunity to concoct a coalition on April 6 after receiving recommendations from 52 MPs to Lapid’s 45.
Rivlin, who as president is tasked with appointing a lawmaker to form a government, can give Netanyahu an extension after his 28 days ends Tuesday night, hand over the mandate to another lawmaker, or send it to the Knesset for a 21-day period, after which fifth elections would automatically be called if no one can form a government.
The president prefers the second option, according to Hebrew media on Monday, and is expected to transfer the government-forming mandate to Lapid, as he received the second-largest recommendation when Rivlin consulted with party officials after the election.
Rivlin could also offer Bennett the option of forming a government, but reports, citing high-level political sources, said the president is unlikely to go that route, even if Netanyahu and a majority of right-wing lawmakers choose to. change their recommendations to Rivlin in order to support Bennett.
The latest elections, the fourth since April 2019, ended in a deadlock, with Netanyahu’s right-wing religious bloc once again falling short of a ruling majority, in part because three right-wing parties ran with it. stated objective to replace it.