Bennett, Netanyahu said to forge new alliance

Jewish Home leader says he regrets last year’s decision to join forces with Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid

Then-Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (left) with then-finance Minister Yair Lapid in the Knesset, March 11, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Then-Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (left) with then-finance Minister Yair Lapid in the Knesset, March 11, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday that he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have forged a new alliance ahead of the expected upcoming election, the NRG website reported.

Speaking during a visit to the West Bank settlement of Beit El, the right-wing politician made his remarks a day after Netanyahu issued a series of demands to Finance Minister Yair Lapid, setting in motion the breakup of the governing coalition and the dissolution of the Knesset.

The preliminary vote on the dissolution bills will take place Wednesday, with the third and final vote formally setting a date for the dissolution of the 19th Knesset expected as early as next Monday.

Bennett also disavowed the alliance forged between his party and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid after the previous elections in January 2013.

He reportedly said his alliance with Lapid, which forced Netanyahu to form a coalition with both Jewish Home and Yesh Atid, leaving the ultra-Orthodox parties out in the cold, was “a grave error that I wouldn’t repeat today and shall not repeat in the future.”

Bennett said Netanyahu chose to break up his coalition with the 19-seat Yesh Atid party because of unrelenting criticism of the government by Lapid and Hatnua party leader Tzipi Livni during the prime minister’s visit to the United States in September.

Bennett met with Netanyahu Monday, before the meeting between the prime minister and Lapid that set in motion the end of the current government. According to Bennett, he and Netanyahu signed a “new pact that will replace the [Jewish Home party’s] pact with Lapid” and agreed that the Likud and Jewish Home parties will support one another in the upcoming election campaign and refrain from criticizing each other.

The agreement fell short, however, of joining the two parties in a joint list like the one that temporarily united Likud and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu in the last election, the NRG report said. Earlier reports indicated that Netanyahu sought to join all the right-wing parties in a single list, but Yisrael Beytenu and Jewish Home rejected the possibility of such a union on Monday, Haaretz reported.

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