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.”