Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid says he’s unwilling to relinquish the presidential mandate to form a government to Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett.
Lapid says he expects President Reuven Rivlin will task him with forming a government after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s mandate expires. The deadline for Netanyahu to establish a coalition is tomorrow night, though he can request an extension. Lapid has received 45 endorsements to form a coalition.
“I will not give up the mandate to Bennett. I see the tricks that are being done and I hope the president doesn’t enable it,” he says, seemingly referring to Netanyahu’s offer to Bennett of a premiership rotation deal. “We will go with Bennett and try to form a government.”
Lapid confirms he’s still willing to let Bennett be first in a premiership rotation deal.
“The foundations are ready. We can form a government. In one more day, if nothing surprising happens, we will be faced with two options: an Israeli national unity government, solid, decent and hard-working. Or fifth elections,” he says.
“There is a historic opportunity. To break down the barriers at the heart of Israeli society. To unite religious and secular, left and right and center. It’s time to choose. Between a unity government or ongoing division. Between unity and rule by the extremes.”
Lapid also addresses the weekend disaster at the Mount Meron pilgrimage site.
“The tragedy was preventable. With proper management, with basic security measures. If the state had behaved like a state. Just like Netanyahu left the airport open, he left Mount Meron open. Thousands of people died during the Covid pandemic. 45 people died in the tragedy on Mount Meron. When the management fails – people die.”
He continues: “Israel is in a dangerous place. We don’t have a functioning government. Instead of taking responsibility they’re running away from it. Instead of forming a state commission of inquiry – everyone is blaming everyone else. It’s time for a new government.”