With Naftali Bennett and his Bayit Leumi party feeling let out of coalition talks, the News 2 online website reported that Bennett and Yisrael Beitenu party leader Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman are cooperating. The report states that while Lieberman insists he remain foreign minister, and Bennett is aware he will not have a chance to receive the appointment, Lieberman is assisting Bennett and his party to receive other ministerial portfolios that he is after.
The very fact that the two parties have a combined total of 14 seats means that PM Netanyahu will not be able to form a right-wing coalition without them, hence their cooperation will place talks in a deadlock.
Interestingly as Bennett aligned with Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid party during coalition talks in the previous Knesset, he now aligns with the only potential coalition partner that announced he would not enter a coalition with the chareidim, Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman recently made his position very clear, that he would prefer to remain in opposition rather than to enter into a coalition partnered with the chareidi parties.
Even if Lieberman does not agree to enter the coalition, the prime minister can still assemble a coalition of 61 including Likud (30), Kulanu (10), Bayit Yehudi (8), Shas (7), and Yahadut Hatorah (6). However, if Bennett is cooperating with Lieberman, a right-wing coalition cannot be formed.
Critics of Mr. Bennett are already warning him that if he does not agree to enter the coalition, he will be to blame for PM Netanyahu entering into a coalition with the Labor party.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)