Bennett, Sa’ar and Lapid Meet as Government Negotiations Make Progress

YERUSHALAYIM -
Head of the Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid holds a press conference in Tel Aviv, on Thursday. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett, Opposition Leader Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), and New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar met Friday morning as their unity government negotiations continue.

Representatives from Yamina and Yesh Atid also met for negotiations Friday morning.

Friday morning’s meeting comes after Bennett and Lapid met Thursday night for coalition talks.

Yesh Atid released a statement Friday, saying that the “talks are making progress in a cordial atmosphere.”

According to reports Thursday evening, the two sides have reached preliminary agreements ahead of the formation of a unity government.

According to one report, the first agreement is on the issue of the Chairman of the Finance Committee. In order to balance between the designated Finance Minister, Avigdor Liberman, while seeking to appease the chareidi parties, Bennett and Lapid agreed that the committee would be headed by a representative from the right-wing bloc, or at least a right-leaning MK.

In addition, the forthcoming agreement between Bennett and Lapid will stipulate that even if the state budget is not passed, the Knesset will not be dispersed. In order to do so, they will have to pass amendments to the Basic Law of Government, and this will be done only after the coalition is sworn in.

On Thursday night, Joint Arab List chief MK Ayman Odeh explained why the Joint List recommended that the mandate to form a government be given to Lapid, despite his intention to form a government headed by Bennett.

Speaking to Arabic press, Odeh said, “Even though Bennett is more right-wing than Netanyahu, Netanyahu is stronger and has the ability to implement and carry out his right-wing plans.”

Also on Thursday, Lapid convened a press conference, for the first time since receiving the mandate to form a government from President Reuven Rivlin, and described his relationship with Bennett.

“What I proposed before receiving the mandate also applies after receiving the mandate. My word is ironclad and this is the only proposal currently on the table. Naftali and I were together in the opposition and coalition. I have never cheated him and he has not cheated on me.”

“From my first days in politics, this has been my dream, this has been my task: Finding the common good. Moving Israeli society from controversy towards agreement. Today we are taking another step in this direction, and we are doing it together.”