Netanyahu Girds for Possible Bennett-Lapid Realignment

Bennett Lapid
MKs Naftali Bennett (L) and Yair Lapid speaking in the Knesset in 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Jewish Home officials denied on Tuesday a report that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is girding for a possible renewal of the alliance between party leader Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid, according to Arutz Sheva.

“Bennett will back Lapid as prime minister over every other candidate, and Lapid will need Bennett to [gain a majority] to go to the president to form a government,” PM Netanyahu was quoted as saying.

“The president will look for any opportunity to let Lapid form a government, and to settle the score with me,” he said, referring to President Reuven Rivlin, a long-time political foe of Netanyahu.

Jewish Home dismissed the story: “This is complete nonsense. It would be better for the Prime Minister to end the [building] freeze in Yerushalayim, Yehudah and Shomron, to stop approving [construction for] Arab cities near Highway 6,” a reference to plans for the expansion of Qalqiliya near the Green Line, “and to stop making a mockery of right-wing voters as he moves to the left of Lapid.”

In the 2013 election campaign, Lapid and Bennett made a pact that each would refuse to join a Netanyahu-led coalition without the other’s inclusion.

The two succeeded in forming a coalition with Likud after the elections, while excluding the chareidi parties. However, coalition tensions eventually resulted in Lapid’s decision to leave the government. In 2015, new elections were held, and Netanyahu formed a coalition, which has held together to the present, with Bennett’s Jewish Home party, United Torah Judaism and Shas, while Yesh Atid remains in the opposition.