Report: New Hope and Yamina Set to Merge

Gideon Sa’ar, leader of the New Hope Party. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Naftali Bennett and Gideon Sa’ar intend to merge their Yamina and New Hope parties, Yisrael Hayom reported Thursday.

According to the report, the merge does not have political significance and is more of a statement. Under the merger, Bennett will be prime minister, leading a party with 13 MKs instead of one with just seven.

Meanwhile, concerned the government will find it hard to make decisions on various issues, Bennett has asked to be granted veto power within the role of prime minister, a move the other parties in the anti-Netanyahu bloc have opposed.

One of the proposals on the table is the establishment of a government comprising 23 ministers and one prime minister, within which each sector – right, left and center – would receive eight ministerial portfolios. The proposal has been met with legal difficulties due to the parity principle set out in a change to a Basic Law by the current unity government, according to which the government is divided into two, not three, blocs. Nor would the division of portfolios be equal among the parties, something some of the parties would oppose.

This is making it difficult for Bennett and Yair Lapid, the Yesh Atid leader, to decide exactly how to divide the positions so that Lapid’s 45 MKs and Bennett and Sa’ar’s 13 MKs have equal power.

The Religious Zionist Party blasted the statement of Yamina and New Hope.

“A few months ago, Naftali Bennett and Yamina embarked on a new path with their goal being regime change and the establishment of a left-wing government under their leadership. Ever since, they have been engaged in a campaign… full of lies and accusations aimed at blurring the turning of their backs on the right-wing camp and its values.

“Today, while we are making every effort to establish a right-wing government, Bennett is taking another, dangerous and unprecedented step toward the forming of a left-wing government that relies on terror-supporting and children-murdering parties and making the State of Israel reliant on them and susceptible to their blackmail.”

In a message to the New Hope and Yamina party heads, the Religious Zionist Party said, “Gideon and Naftali, the right will not forgive you if you sell the State of Israel to its enemies for minor interests and major ego. You will be remembered eternally in disgrace. Take it back, and let’s establish a right-wing government.”

With just five days remaining, Netanyahu hasn’t given up on his efforts to establish a government just yet. On Wednesday, his emissaries tried to convince Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to join  the right-wing bloc and take over the premiership.

According to sources with knowledge of the talks, Gantz has demanded to serve as prime minister the first two years of the next government as part of a rotation deal between himself and Netanyahu. While Netanyahu has agreed to let Gantz serve first, he would like to see him in office for just one year.

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