Bennett Lashes Back at Netanyahu

Head of the Yamina party Naftali Bennett outside the Knesset, Wednesday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yamina leader Naftali Bennett struck out on his own Wednesday night, lashing out publicly at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏ and saying that he will work to form a government and avert another round of elections.

Responding for the first time to Netanyahu’s call for direct elections for prime minister, Bennett dismissed it as “throwing billions in the trash” and accused Netanyahu of being ready to take Israel to a sixth and seventh election in order to stay in power.

Answering allegations that Bennett’s ambition is leading him into the hands of an “immoral” alliance with the left, he said that it wasn’t the issue.

“The people of Israel want and need a stable government,” said Bennett.

“There are people who need to earn a living and return from furlough [from their jobs], children who need to return to school, citizens are sick of the infighting… They just want a government that works for them.

“I told Netanyahu right away [when he received the mandate to form a government two weeks ago] that he has Yamina’s votes to create a right-wing government,” Bennett said. He accused Netanyahu of failing to offer the New Hope party enough incentive to join the coalition, though its chairman Gideon Saar a bitter political enemy of Netanyahu, has said repeatedly that he will not serve in a Netanyahu-led government.

Bennett said that if Netanyahu can’t form a right wing government, he will work toward a unity government, presumably with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, though he will not compromise his beliefs to do so.

Meanwhile, Bennett and Lapid were having their problems.

According to Channel 13, negotiations between them have stalled over a question that has not figured at all in the public discussion about coalition possibilities: Namely, who will be defense minister?

Bennett, who would lead a 13-MK bloc of Yamina and New Hope, is bargaining for New Hope chair Gideon Saar at defense and Yamina’s Ayelet Shaked at Justice.

Lapid, who leads a 45-MK bloc of Yesh Atid, Blue and White, Yisrael Beytenu, Labor and Meretz, understandably wants defense for one of his people. But since without Bennett’s 13 MKs Lapid has no majority, they’re still talking.

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