Naftali Bennett, the leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party, on Monday reiterated charges that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to turn his back on the Likud party’s traditional coalition partners and form a government with Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party.
Speaking at conference organized by the right-wing weekly Besheva, Bennett cited as a precedent the 2009 elections, when Netanyahu was tasked by the president with forming a coalition, “and immediately after the elections he brought in [Ehud] Barak.”
The prime minister, he said, “intends to form a government with the left, with [Nos. 1 and 2 on the Hatnua party’s slate] Tzipi Livni and Amram Mitzna.”
Two weeks ago Bennett leveled an identical charge at Netanyahu, claiming the prime minister was plotting to form a government with Livni and Lapid and exclude his religious-nationalist Jewish Home party, which is heading for 15 seats in the coming elections, according to a Times of Israel poll published on Monday.
Likud-Beytenu campaign manager MK Gilad Erdan rebuffed Bennett’s claim, saying the Likud party’s interests lie with the right-wing camp.
Livni on Monday said that “none of the parties in the [center-left] bloc can enter the government alone.”
She has been calling for the three center-left parties — Hatnua, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, and the Labor Party — to work together to oust Netanyahu if possible, and, if not, to decide as one whether to join a Netanyahu-led coalition.
Labor head Shelly Yachimovich backed the idea of a center-left bloc while ruling out the possibility of bringing Labor into a Netanyahu-led government.
Newcomer Lapid said that the three center-left parties should all join a Netanyahu-led coalition, in order to reduce ultra-Orthodox and hardline right-wing leverage. Like Livni, he asserted that Yesh Atid would not be the “fifth wheel” in a right-wing/ultra-Orthodox coalition.
A meeting between Livni, Lapid and Yachimovich late Sunday night ended without an announcement of a political alliance. And on Monday, Yachimovich and Lapid said Livni’s talk of an alliance was just a disingenuous tactic.
Yoel Goldman contributed to this report.