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Bennett declares he’s working to form gov’t with Lapid: It’s unity or elections

Yamina chief says Netanyahu has no options for assembling a right-wing coalition, calls it a ‘complete lie’ to say otherwise; PM accuses him of instigating ‘scam of the century’

Yamina leader Naftali Bennett gives a televised speech at the Knesset in Jerusalem on May 30, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yamina leader Naftali Bennett gives a televised speech at the Knesset in Jerusalem on May 30, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they happened.

Yamina MKs set to convene after faction meeting delayed following Netanyahu offer

Yamina lawmakers are set to convene soon for a meeting during which, it has been widely speculated, party leader Naftali Bennett will announce he will back a government with factions seeking to replace Likud chief Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister.

The meeting had been scheduled for 10 a.m., but was pushed back until 2 p.m. after Netanyahu suggested forming a government in which New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar will serve as premier first, followed by the incumbent prime minister and then Bennett. Sa’ar has rejected the offer out of hand.

Rebel Yamina MK Amichai Chikli, who has come out against joining a prospective government with the “change bloc” of anti-Netanyahu parties, says he won’t be at today’s faction meeting.

“From the moment they said a change government was on the table, I unfortunately found myself in an oppositional position. I need to see how it continues from here,” he tells Army Radio.

Yesh Atid said to believe it will be able to declare government with Bennett on Wednesday

Yesh Atid believes that party leader Yair Lapid and Yamina chief Naftali Bennett are able to form a government on Wednesday, the Haaretz daily reports.

Wednesday is the last day of Lapid’s official mandate to assemble a coalition.

Yamina had been due to meet this morning to discuss whether to form a government with Yesh Atid and other parties opposed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but the meeting was pushed back to this afternoon after the premier proposed a coalition in which New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar will be prime minister first, followed by Netanyahu and then Bennett. Sa’ar has rejected the offer, blocking Netanyahu’s right-wing religious bloc from securing a majority together with Yamina and New Hope.

Before Netanyahu’s offer and the delaying of Yamina’s faction meeting, reports indicated Bennett could announce he will seek to form a government with Lapid as soon as today.

Minute of silence observed in Italian region for victims of cable car disaster

ROME — The three suspects in Italy’s cable car disaster that killed 14 people are allowed to leave prison after a judge indicates that most of the blame fell on a service technician who intentionally disabled the car’s emergency brake because it kept locking spontaneously.

Judge Donatella Banci Buonamici says there isn’t sufficient evidence suggesting the owner of the Mottarone cable car company, Luigi Nerini, or the maintenance chief, Enrico Perocchio, knew the technician had deactivated the brake on several occasions even before the May 23 disaster.

After evaluating the prosecutors’ case and their request for continued detention of the three, Buonamici orders those two freed while allowing the technician, Gabriele Tadini, to leave under house arrest. The three men left the Verbania prison earlier today, accompanied by their lawyers.

Fourteen people were killed when the lead cable of the Mottarone funicular overlooking Lake Maggiore in northern Italy snapped and the emergency brake failed to prevent the cable car from reeling backward down the support line. The cable car pulled off the line entirely when it hit a support pylon, crashed to the ground and then rolled down the mountain until it was stopped by a stand of trees.

The lone survivor, 5-year-old Israeli Eitan Biran, remains hospitalized but conscious.

It is not known why the cable snapped.

The Italian region of Piedmont observed a minute of silence at noon Sunday, and flags are flying at half-staff to mark the moment one week ago when the disaster struck.

Ashkenazi meets Egyptian FM in Cairo for talks on Gaza ceasefire

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi is now meeting in Cairo with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry for talks on the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas terror group following the recent fighting in Gaza.

Yamina faction meeting begins after several hour delay

Lawmakers from the Yamina party are now meeting after this morning’s faction was delayed until this afternoon.

Rebel MK Amichai Chikli is not present after earlier saying he would skip the meeting. Chikli objects to Yamina forming a government with Yesh Atid and the “change bloc” of anti-Netanyahu parties, which is made up of centrist, right-wing and left-wing factions and will almost surely need the backing of the Islamist Ra’am and/or the Joint List alliance of three predominantly Arab parties to swear in the prospective coalition.

Netanyahu hosts Egyptian spymaster for talks on Gaza ceasefire

Prime Minister Netanyahu hosts an Egyptian delegation led by Egypt’s intelligence chief Abbas Kemal, who is in the country for talks on the ceasefire that ended fighting between Israel and the Hamas terror group that rules Gaza earlier this month.

A statement from Netanyahu’s office says the two discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation and “the regional issues,” and that they hailed “the joint effort between the countries on various security and diplomatic matters.”

Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s demand for the return of two citizens and the bodies of two soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war believed held by Hamas, according to the Prime Minister’s Office, which says they also discussed “the mechanisms and processes for preventing the strengthening of Hamas and preventing it from being aided by resources that will be allocated in the future for the civilian population.”

The statement doesn’t use the word ceasefire or make any explicit mention of the agreement Egypt helped broker to end the 11 days of hostilities that erupted on May 10, after Hamas fired rockets toward Jerusalem amid escalating Israeli-Palestinian tensions over the city.

Prime Minister Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosts Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel at his official residence in Jerusalem, May 30, 2021. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Also taking part in the sit-down was National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, who met with Kemal earlier for what the PMO says was a “lengthy discussion on these matters.”

The meetings come as Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi is being hosted by his Egyptian counterpart Samey Shoukry for talks on the Gaza ceasefire.

Yamina says MKs fully on board with Bennett’s efforts to form government

The Yamina faction meeting has ended less than an hour after it started.

A statement from the party says Bennett updated lawmakers on the “events of recent days and his efforts to form a stable and functioning government.”

Yamina says the faction unanimously backed “his efforts to form a government and prevent fifth elections.” MK Amichai Chikli was not in attendance, meaning the decision was backed by the six of seven Yamina lawmakers there, including Bennett.

The party also says there may be a televised statement this evening.

Bennett said to tell Yamina MKs he intends to form gov’t with ‘change bloc’

Yamina leader Naftali Bennett told lawmakers in his party that he intends to form a government with the “change bloc” of anti-Netanyahu parties, according to Hebrew media reports.

If Bennett publicly confirms that he intends to partner with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid in a unity government that would oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Lapid would then be expected to inform President Reuven Rivlin that he has assembled a majority government. A vote to approve such a government would then be held within days. Under the reported terms of their nascent deal, Bennett would serve as prime minister until September 2023, with Lapid taking over as PM until the next scheduled elections at the end of 2025.

“This is the moment to put public interest above all else,” Bennett reportedly tells his party colleagues.

He dismisses Netanyahu’s claim that if only Bennett would join him, there’d be a right-wing majority government, saying to Yamina MKs: “You have to understand, we are not choosing between the two alternatives, of a right-wing government or a ‘change government.’ We’ve turned over every stone. Netanyahu doesn’t have [the votes for] a right-wing government. The choice is elections or a change government.”

“How many times do we have to batter the state [with elections] in order to understand there is no right-wing government?” he is also quoted saying. “Netanyahu doesn’t have a government — that’s a fact.”

“Leadership means taking responsibility,” he also says, according to further reports from the meeting. “We have red lines and we’ll uphold them. We won’t relinquish territory and we won’t harm the Jewish identity of the State of Israel. It’s easy to hunker down and fan the flames [of internal division] as others do. But that’s how you tear the nation apart.”

“This is a national unity government of equal forces, and I don’t apologize,” he reportedly says. “I’m proud of our actions in the difficult circumstances. That’s our essence — taking responsibility… Bibi offered everything, with one exception: establishing a government.”

Ministers okay ending COVID restrictions on businesses effective Monday

The high-level coronavirus cabinet votes by phone to end the lifting of all coronavirus restrictions on businesses — expect for the indoor mask mandate — effective tomorrow, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office and the Finance Ministry.

Netanyahu meets with presidential hopeful Miriam Peretz

Prime Minister Netanyahu met today with Israel Prize-winning educator Miriam Peretz, who will face off on Wednesday against current Jewish Agency chairman and former Labor party chief Isaac Herzog in the race for Israel’s next president.

A statement from Netanyahu’s Likud party says the premier praised Peretz’s “life story, personality and work,” while saying Israel was blessed to have “two worthy candidates” to replace President Reuven Rivlin when his 7-year term ends next month.

He also said he remains committed to his earlier statements that Likud won’t whip the vote, allowing lawmakers to vote for who they please.

The president is chosen by the Knesset’s 120 lawmakers in a secret ballot. Herzog, whose father Chaim Herzog was Israel’s sixth president, is considered the frontrunner.

Yamina MK said considering resigning rather than backing ‘change government’

Yamina MK Nir Orbach is considering resigning from the Knesset rather than voting in favor of a prospective “change government” with anti-Netanyahu parties, Channel 12 news reports.

Yamina MK Nir Orbach arrives for the swearing-in of the 24th Knesset in Jerusalem, April 6, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The network also airs video showing a noticeable security presence outside the Yamina faction meeting in Ra’anana today, after threats were made against the party’s leader Naftali Bennett on social media.

Israel summons Philippine envoy for ‘clarification’ over backing of UN rights probe

The Foreign Ministry summons the Philippine ambassador to Israel for a “clarification” after the Philippines voted last week to back the establishment of an open-ended UN Human Rights Council probe of Israel.

A statement says Gilad Cohen, the deputy direct-general for Asia and the Pacific, told Ambassador Macairog Alberto that the vote was unacceptable to Israel and amounted to a prize for the Gaza-ruling terror group Hamas.

“Israel expects from friendly countries like the Philippines not to support proposals that strengthen terror and to stand alongside us at this hour,” Cohen is quoted as saying in the Foreign Ministry statement.

UAE ambassador meets spiritual leader of ultra-Orthodox Shas party

The United Arab Emirates’ envoy to Israel meets today with Rabbi Shalom Cohen, the spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party.

Cohen bestows upon Ambassador Mohamed Mahmoud Al Khajah a priestly blessing and the two discuss the normalization agreement inked between the two countries last year, according to the Kan public broadcaster.

Likud: Bennett ‘hoodwinking’ his voters, desire to prevent elections is just an ‘excuse’

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party puts out a fresh statement lashing Yamina chief Naftali Bennett, after the latter told lawmakers in his party he intends to form a government with Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid.

Likud accuses Bennett of using his stated commitment to averting fifth elections as an “excuse” for assembling a coalition with the “change bloc” of anti-Netanyahu parties.

“Bennett knows well that at any time he joins the right, a right-wing government will be formed,” Likud charges. “The only thing consistent about Bennett is the hoodwinking of his constituents and the rest of right-wing voters, and throwing the ‘principles’ he talked about into the trash, all to be prime minister at any price.”

Naftali Bennett to give televised speech at 8 p.m.

Yamina chief Naftali Bennett will give a nationally televised address from the Knesset at 8 p.m. as Israel’s main evening new programs are broadcast. He told members of his right-party this afternoon that he intends to form a government with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid.

Egyptian spy chief meets with PA leader Abbas to talk Gaza ceasefire

After meeting with Israeli leaders, Egyptian spy chief Abbas Kamel travels to the West Bank city of Ramallah, where he meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The PA’s official Wafa news agency says the two discussed the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas terror group, rebuilding Gaza, and “intra-Palestinian reconciliation.”

4 Jews hit with terror charges, 3 of them with attempted murder over stabbing of Arab man in Jerusalem

Prosecutors file terrorism charges against four Jewish defendants accused of stabbing an Arab man in a Jerusalem market two weeks ago, causing him serious injuries.

The May 13 attack at the Mahane Yehuda market came in the midst of rioting between Arab and Jewish communities in the worst ethnic clashes the country had seen for years.

A gag order is placed on publishing the names of the defendants, who are between 21 and 30 years old.

Three of the defendants are charged with terror and attempted murder, while the fourth is charged with a terror act and deliberate causing of grievous bodily harm.

The victim, 25, was hospitalized after the attack. He has since been released from the hospital but is still undergoing rehabilitation.

According to the indictments, the four attacked the victim, a restaurant worker, as he was emptying out trash.

They allegedly sprayed him with pepper spray, beat him and one of them stabbed him in the back.

Prosecutors ask that the suspects remain in custody until the end of the legal proceedings.

Ashkenazi: Israel won’t allow Hamas to use Gaza rebuilding to get stronger

After meeting his Egyptian counterpart in Cairo, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi says Israel won’t allow the Hamas terror group to use the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip to build up its military capabilities.

He also say Israel won’t allow the rebuilding without a solution for the release of two Israeli citizens and the bodies of two soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war who are believed to be held by Hamas, according to Hebrew media reports.

Israel’s Linoy Ashram wins gold, silver medals at gymnastics world cup

Israeli gymnast Linoy Ashram wins a gold medal in the ball category at the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Italy.

Ashram also takes home a silver medal in the hoop category.

Iranian judiciary warns presidential hopefuls against crossing ‘red lines’

TEHRAN, Iran — A senior Iranian judiciary official warns candidates running in the forthcoming presidential election against crossing the “red lines” of the Islamic Republic.

Iranians are set to elect a successor to President Hassan Rouhani on June 18, amid widespread discontent over a deep economic and social crisis.

The Islamic Republic’s candidate-vetting Guardian Council has approved seven mainly ultraconservative candidates to run in the election from a field of about 600 hopefuls.

“Candidates should not cross the system’s red lines in their campaigns and speeches,” says Tehran Attorney General Ali Alqassi-Mehr, according to Mizan Online, the judiciary’s official news agency.

Wrongdoers will be “confronted firmly,” he says, and warns in particular against any attacks on the “reputation” of the judiciary.

Several issues are considered “red lines” in Iran, including questioning the doctrine of Velayat-e faqih (the guardianship of the jurist) which establishes religious authority over politics.

The head of the judiciary, ultraconservative Ebrahim Raisi, is widely considered the favorite candidate in the race to the presidency.

Raisi won 38 percent of the vote in the 2017 presidential election but was defeated by Rouhani.

The presidential election campaign officially kicked off quietly on Friday.

The Guardian Council’s disqualification of several candidates appeared to have cleared the way for Raisi, who faces four lesser-known candidates from his own camp and two reformists without a strong base.

Health Ministry issues guidelines ahead of expected heatwave

Ahead of an expected heatwave set to hit Israel tomorrow, the Health Ministry urges Israelis to avoid exposure to the sun, refrain from unnecessary physical activity, drink lots of water and stay in air-conditioned spaces when possible.

The ministry says elderly Israelis and people with preexisting medical conditions should particularly pay heed to these guidelines.

Netanyahu to give televised speech 30 minutes after Bennett’s scheduled address

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s will give a televised speech at 8:30 p.m., half an hour after his right-wing rival Yamina head Naftali Bennett is due to deliver an address in which he is expected to announce he’s forming a government with the premier’s political opponents.

Hamas chief in Gaza: We fire rockets at Israeli civilians because we don’t have precision weapons

In an interview with Vice News, the leader of Hamas in Gaza says the terror group was ready to agree to a ceasefire with Israel hours after firing rockets toward Jerusalem, kicking off 11 days of fighting in the coastal enclave.

Yahya Sinwar also asserts that Hamas fires rockets at Israeli population centers because it doesn’t have precision missiles to target Israeli military installations with.

PA chief Abbas agrees to Palestinian reconciliation talks in Cairo

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian Intelligence chief Abbas Kamel agree to hold a series of pan-Palestinian talks in Cairo, Egyptian government media says.

The leaders of all major Palestinian factions will participate in the talks “as part of Egypt’s efforts in support of unifying the Palestinian position,” says Egyptian official media.

Egypt has long presented itself as the gateway to Palestinian reconciliation. Palestinian politics have been divided since 2007 between Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Fatah, which controls the West Bank.

Both major Palestinian movements have ties to Egypt, which has hosted numerous rounds of negotiations seeking to end the rift. All have come to naught.

IDF issues order to raze home of Palestinian suspected of deadly drive-by shooting attack

The head of the military’s Central Command has signed an order to demolish the home of a Palestinian man accused of a drive-by shooting attack in the West Bank that left one Israeli student dead and two others injured, the Israel Defense Forces says.

The IDF says the family of Muntasir Shalabi, from the village of Turmus Ayya, has been informed of the order. The order was issued after an appeal filed by Shalabi’s family was rejected, the military adds.

Yehuda Guetta, 19, died after being seriously wounded in the terror attack.

Outgoing Mossad chief calls to up operations against Iran

Yossi Cohen, the outgoing head of the Mossad intelligence service, calls to up operations against Iran while receiving an honorary doctorate from Bar-Ilan University.

“Activity against the Iranian regime must be stepped up so that it understands that crossing the lines will cost it immense damage,” he says.

TV: Right-wing sources say Shaked still not sure she’ll back gov’t with Lapid

Channel 12 news quotes “right-wing sources” as saying that Yamina No. 2 Ayelet Shaked is not certain that she will end up supporting a prospective government that would see party leader Naftali Bennett switch off the premiership with Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid.

Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked gives a statement to the press at the Knesset on May 26, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)

Bennett declares he’s working to form gov’t with Lapid: It’s unity or elections

Yamina chief Naftali Bennett kicks off his highly anticipated prime time speech, saying Prime Minister Netanyahu has no option of forming a right-wing government.

“It’s a complete lie,” he says.

Bennett says the options are either a fifth round of elections since April 2019 or a government with the so-called “change bloc” of anti-Netanyahu parties.

Thus, he announces, he is working to form a unity government with Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid.

Bennett, standing alone, begins by saying Israel “has been in a dizzying spin for 2.5 years,” with election after election failing to produce a definitive result. “For four elections, we’ve watched our beloved country tear itself apart, weaken itself, lose its capacity to function.”

Ministers do not run anything, and instead the leadership peddles “hatred and division.”

Bennett continues: “2,000 years ago, we lost a Jewish state here because of internal hatreds; that won’t happen again, not on my watch.”

“The political crisis is unprecedented, on a global level,” he says. “If we keep going like this,” he warns, “the house will fall in on us.” It is time “to stop the madness and take responsibility.”

“There are those who say that there’s a right-wing government around the corner and only we are preventing its establishment. That’s a complete lie,” he says. “There is no right-wing government… Four elections and two months have proved there is no right-wing government headed by Netanyahu… It’s either fifth elections or a unity government…

“There are no defectors… there is no government,” he says, “and anyone who tells you differently is lying in your face.”

He says he agreed today to another effort by Netanyahu to build a government in which Gideon Sa’ar would serve first as prime minister, but “it failed because nobody believes the promises will be kept.”

Charges Bennett: “Netanyahu is trying to take the whole national camp, the entire country, to his personal Masada.”

Choosing to take responsibility, he says, “I intend to work with all my strength to build a national unity government together with my friend Yair Lapid… to get Israel back on track.”

Bennett and Lapid have differences, but also have a shared determination to work for the good of the country. “This government will only work if we all pull together… We’ll restore unity… Israel’s secret weapon since its founding.”

Bennett says “all parties are invited to enter the government.”

“Nobody will have to give up their ideology, but all will have to postpone the realization of some of their dreams… We’ll focus on what can be achieved, rather than arguing about what cannot.”

“It’ll be a government ‘in favor'” of what its members have in common — rather than hobbled by internal opposition.

Bennett says it is another lie “to call this a left-wing government. The truth is it’s a little more right-wing than the current government. Just look at the list of ministers.”

“The left is making not insignificant concessions — giving me, a former head of the Settlers Council and a man of the Land of Israel, the post of prime minister, and my friend Gideon Sa’ar, a firm right-winger, the post of minister of justice.”

Says Bennett: “We have not shifted from our values… This is not a government that will relinquish territory… or hesitate” to take military actions when needed.

He urges those who support these positions to speak out in favor. He says they are facing “a well-oiled machine that peddles lies day and night to instill fear in the hearts of the public.”

“We’re on our way,” he concludes. “If we succeed, we’ll do something great for the State of Israel. And in any case, we’ll know we did everything at a difficult moment.”

“This is the most difficult decision I’ve ever made, but I am comfortable with it.”

Netanyahu’s bloc rages at Bennett for announcing he’s seeking coalition with PM’s rivals

Members of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s right-wing religious bloc lash out at Yamina chief Naftali Bennett for declaring he is seeking to form a government with Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid and the “change bloc” of anti-Netanyahu parties.

“We said then and it’s been proved today: You vote for Bennett, you get Lapid. The public won’t forget,” MK Miki Zohar, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, writes on Twitter.

Far-right Religious Zionism leader tweets: “Bennett’s ability to lie in front of the cameras without blinking is just incredible… It was all coordinated and planned ahead of time… the greatest scam in the history of Israeli politics.”

Netanyahu claims Bennett instigating ‘the fraud of the century,’ but can yet be thwarted

Speaking just a few minutes after Yamina leader Naftali Bennett, Prime Minister Netanyahu accuses his right-wing rival of misleading the Israeli public in claiming that Netanyahu has no options to form a coalition.

He claims Bennett is instigating “the fraud of the century,” cheating voters and lying about the political reality, and says that the Yamina chief only cares about being prime minister, but can still be thwarted.

Netanyahu again floats his proposal for a government in which New Hope chief Gideon Sa’ar will serve as prime minister first, followed by himself and then Bennett. Sa’ar rejected such a government earlier today.

He also asserts that MKs have told him they will break with their parties to join with his right-wing religious bloc once Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid’s mandate to form a government ends, on Wednesday.

Netanyahu begins by saying that two million Israelis voted for him — either directly for Likud or for parties that back him as prime minister — “because of my loyalty to the Land of Israel, the State of Israel, the security of Israel and the future of Israel.

“They know my compass won’t malfunction,” he says in a first dig at Bennett.

Bennett is trying to fool the public, accusing others of spreading hatred and division, when he is the one spreading hatred and division, says Netanyahu.

He accuses Bennett of perpetrating “the fraud of the century,” recalling that Bennett signed a pledge just before the March 23 elections that he would not allow Yair Lapid to become prime minister, not even via rotation. “There is not a person in the land who would have voted for you had they known,” what Bennett had in mind, says Netanyahu.

He says that Bennett “flipped” immediately after the elections and began working to become “prime minister at any price,” and then flipped again during this month’s fight against Hamas — when he said “the left-wing government is off the table.”

Now, says Netanyahu, Bennett has done a third flip — in favor of a left-wing government. “What has changed? Nothing” — It’s just that “he’s trying to fool voters and drag votes to the left.”

Netanyahu says the battle is not yet lost. Instead of “a dangerous left-wing government,” a “good right-wing government” can yet be built after Lapid’s mandate ends on Wednesday. This could be via the arrangement he proposed earlier today — whereby Gideon Sa’ar, Netanyahu and Bennett would take turns in that order as prime minister. That would be “very unacceptable, unusual, and skewed,” he says, but still better than a left-wing government.

Alternatively, he says, there are enough MKs “who can give us more than 61 votes” in the 21 days after Lapid’s mandate ends — when the 120-seat Knesset would have the opportunity to rally behind a prime minister of its choice. He says these MKs — presumably defectors from Bennett’s, Sa’ar’s, and other “change bloc” parties — are saying they are “coming to a right-wing government.”

Bennett does not want a fifth general election “because he knows he’ll be wiped off the political map; he won’t clear the threshold,” says Netanyahu. “He only cares about himself.”

“I call on the MKs who were elected with right-wing votes: stick with that path — don’t establish a left-wing government,” urges Netanyahu. “That government is a danger to the security of Israel and a danger to the future of the state.”

He adds: “If heaven forbid it is established, in a few days, the security cabinet of the State of Israel [will include] Yair Lapid, [Meretz’s Nitzan] Horowitz, [Labor’s Merav] Michaeli, and [Meretz’s] Tamar Zandberg.”

He scoffs: “What impact will that have on Israel’s deterrent capability? How will we look to our enemies? What will they say in Iran and Gaza? What will they do in Iran and Gaza? What will they say in the corridors of the administration in Washington?

“Will Lapid, Zandberg, and company face down Iran?” he asks rhetorically. “They wholeheartedly support that dangerous nuclear agreement. They’ll fight Hamas? They depend on the votes of [Arab MKs Ahmad] Tibi and [Ayman] Odeh. They’ll defend our soldiers in The Hague?… Who’ll protect the settlements…? It’s a joke…”

Citing what he calls “another ridiculous fraud,” Netanyahu says: “They call this left-wing government a ‘unity government.’ It’s a government with 40 left and hard-left seats, with a fig leaf of parties that took votes from the right and brought them to the left, reliant on the support of anti-Zionist votes. And that they call a unity government!”

Fifty-two mandates of the “real right” are being pushed aside, he says. As for the Bennett-Lapid talk of national healing, Netanyahu asks: “The two million voters” who wanted him “are a sickness that needs healing?”

While claiming to be democratic, his rivals “are trying to pass legislation to prevent me winning future elections” in a process he compares to Syria, Iran, and North Korea.

“Not unity, not healing, not democracy — it’s an opportunistic government, a government of surrender and fraud,” he says. “It must not be established.”

He again urges MKs elected with right-wing votes: “Don’t cheat the public who supported you, and don’t cheat yourselves… If you’re a right-winger, you don’t vote for a left-wing government. And if you vote for a left-wing government, you are not a right-winger.”

He concludes: “Stand up against the left-wing government, and with God’s help we’ll together establish a right-wing government for the good of all of Israel’s citizens.”

Yesh Atid says coalition talks with Yamina to resume after Bennett speech

Yesh Atid says its coalition negotiators will meet this evening with their counterparts from Yamina for talks on forming a government.

The announcement comes after Yamina chief Naftali Bennett gave a prime time speech declaring that he is working to form a coalition with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid.

Gantz gives Egyptian spymaster Israel’s view on how to ensure calm in Gaza

Defense Minister Benny Gantz meets with Egyptian Intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, showing him the Israeli military’s views on how to maintain a long-term ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

“Gantz presented the head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate with the security-diplomacy principles that were put together by the defense establishment,” his office says.

Kamel has met with a number of top Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to discuss ongoing efforts to maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, following this month’s 11-day battle between the two sides.

Director-General of the Defense Ministry Amir Eshel and the head of the ministry’s influential Political-Military Affairs Bureau, Zohar Palti, also attended the meeting between Gantz and Kamel, the defense minister’s office says.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz (L) meets with Egyptian intelligence Abbas Kamel at his office in Tel Aviv on May 30, 2021. (Elad Malka/Defense Ministry)

Likud ministers said angered Netanyahu didn’t let one of them form right-wing gov’t

Channel 12 news quotes two unnamed Likud ministers fuming at Prime Minister Netanyahu for showing more willingness to give up the premiership to another party leader or to head to the opposition benches than to step aside and give another member of his ruling party a chance at forming a right-wing government.

“What’s astounding is that he’s prepared to give the prime ministership to Gantz, to Bennett or to Sa’ar, that’s he’s prepared to go into the opposition — just so long as there is not a different candidate [for prime minister] from the Likud,” the Likud ministers are quoted saying of Netanyahu.

Palestinian armed with knives caught entering southern Israel from Gaza

A Palestinian man armed with knives is detained by community security officers after crossing into Israel from the southern Gaza Strip, a spokesperson for the Eshkol region says.

The suspected enters the Hevel Shalom area, near the borders of Israel, Gaza and Egypt, before he is “neutralized” by local security officers, according to the Eshkol spokesperson.

Residents of Hevel Shalom are being asked to remain in their homes while security forces search the area to ensure no one else entered Israeli territory.

“The circumstances are still not clear,” the spokesperson says.

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