A source in the Jewish Home party on Monday dismissed a report saying the right-wing list had forged an agreement with the centrist Yesh Atid under which both parties would either join a coalition headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or, together, opt out of such a coalition if Netanyahu doesn’t accede to their policy demands.
“We never had such an agreement on that issue,” the source told The Times of Israel, referring to the notion of linking the party’s fate with that of Yesh Atid to the point of forgoing a spot in the coalition. “[We agree] on many issues, yes, but not on the issue of [politically] living or dying together.”
The Hebrew daily Maariv had quoted senior Likud party members to the effect that the two parties’ agreement to cooperate on a universal draft law was more extensive than previously reported and was also aimed at heading off a scenario wherein either Yesh Atid or the Jewish Home would be left out of a coalition that would then be propped up by ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism.
“If it’s indeed Likud saying that,” the Jewish Home source said, “then they’re definitely trying to send a message to Shas and UTJ,” the message being that if the ultra-Orthodox parties failed to soften their positions on matters that are of paramount importance to Jewish Home and Yesh Atid — i.e., the enactment of a universal draft law — Netanyahu would have no choice but to freeze them out of the coalition.
“We see ourselves as a natural partner of the Likud and look forward to serving in the next government,” the source said, adding that even though there were informal agreements with Yesh Atid on some issues, “don’t expect us to sit in the opposition.”
Lapid, by contrast, has indicated that he’s perfectly willing to stay out of a Netanyahu-led coalition. According to a Channel 2 report Sunday, he even expressed confidence in his ability to replace Netanyahu as prime minister within a short span of time.
The Jewish Home party has been consistent in its message that it would serve in a government with Netanyahu, and even ran a billboard campaign featuring a picture of Netanyahu alongside the visage of Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett.
A senior Likud member told Israel Radio on Monday that Netanyahu was confronting potential partners whose stances were dictated by standards that were “new to Israeli politics,” namely that they were genuinely set on fulfilling their promises to the electorate.
“In coalition negotiations, one of the things that has come up is that Likud is not happy about what they’re seeing from the ultra-Orthodox and Lapid. They’re most happy with us,” the Jewish Home source said.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.