Netanyahu Meets Bennett in Attempt to Form Rightwing Gov’t

YERUSHALAYIM -
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (R) seen with Naftali Bennett during a plenum session in the Knesset. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met Friday with Yamina party’s chairman Naftali Bennett for coalition talks in an attempt to sway Bennett to join his government.

According to Yediot Acharonot, Likud MKs are “raging” against Netanyahu for allegedly offering Bennett top positions within the party.

“It’s a disgraceful proposal that indicates a loss of nerves. It’s putting the Likud up for sale in exchange for Netanyahu’s seat,” an unnamed top Likud official was quoted as saying.

However, another senior faction member dismissed the report, stressing that Netanyahu’s offer “died before it was born” as Bennett “completely” ruled it out.

On Thursday, MK Mansour Abbas, leader of the Islamist Ra’am party, delivered a speech announcing he will make a decision on which candidate to support for the prime minister post in the coming days.

If Abbas would support Netanyahu for the role – as some reports suggest he would – it could put Netanyahu in a tough negotiating position.

Following the Islamist leader’s remarks, Religious Zionism chief and lawmaker Betzalel Smotrich reportedly refused to speak to Netanyahu as he was “outraged” over his alleged legitimization of Ra’am.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid will meet Naftali Bennett on Motzoei Shabbos.

Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, has reportedly conveyed his willingness to work with Bennett, going so far as to offer the premiership first in a rotation agreement.

The reported offer comes despite the fact the Yesh Atid won 17 seats in the election, ten more than Yamina’s seven.

Lapid, however, has a number of demands before inking a deal, including Bennett offering a public guarantee that he will not sit with interim Netanyahu.

Bennett, whose Yamina party earned seven seats in the election, has yet to commit to joining either Netanyahu or the so-called “change bloc,” which currently consists of Yesh Atid (17), Yisrael Beytenu (7 seats), Labor (7), Meretz (6), New Hope (6), and likely the Blue and White party (8).