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.”