In the aftermath of the failure of the right-wing bloc to assemble a coalition, and the decision of President Reuven Rivlin to hand the mandate to Yesh Atid leader MK Yair Lapid, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has invited the heads of the right-wing parties for a meeting later on Thursday.
Netanyahu has invited the head of the Shas party, Rabbi Aryeh Deri, UTJ leaders MKs Rabbi Moshe Gafni and Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, and Religious Zionism leader MK Betzalel Smotrich, but has omitted MK Naftali Bennett, head of the Yamina party.
Thursday’s meeting will be the first time the heads of the right-wing parties have convened together with Netanyahu since the elections. According to reports, the Prime Minister is expected to request that the party heads refrain from negotiating with any members of the so-called “bloc for change” – those parties dedicated to replacing Netanyahu – including Yamina’s Bennett.
Back in March, Bennett promised that he would never join Lapid in a government headed by his Yesh Atid party, “even in a rotation.” However, just days later, media reports revealed that Yesh Atid had “acquiesced to Yamina’s demand” that in a rotation deal, Bennett would serve first as prime minister, followed by Lapid, even though Bennett only has seven MKs to Yesh Atid’s 18.