Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced on Monday afternoon that he’s willing to step aside and allow Yamina leader Naftali Bennett to serve first as prime minister in a rotational agreement in order to establish a right-wing government.
Netanyahu’s concession comes a day before his mandate to form a government is set to expire on Tuesday at midnight and is apparently a last-minute attempt to form a government before the mandate is passed to Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid.
Netanyahu’s message on Monday afternoon comes after a Kan News report earlier on Monday said that Netanyahu and Bennett met in secret last week. The report added that the Likud and Yamina negotiation teams also secretly met last week, with talks continuing via phone over the weekend.
However, Bennett’s response to Bennett’s offer was less than promising, with him saying that he didn’t ask to be prime minister but for a government and “Netanyahu doesn’t have a government because [Religious Zionism leader] Smotrich burned the bridges for a right-wing government.”
Smotrich has repeatedly refused to join a government supported by the outside by the Arab Ra’am party.
Bennett added that he prefers to join a right-wing government over a national unity government and is willing to compromise to do so but Netanyahu is trying to place his own failure to form a government on Yamina’s shoulders.
“If Netanyahu doesn’t succeed in forming a government, we will form a unity government,” he said. “The most destructive thing for Israel would be another election.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)