“Why was the coordination with Yair Lapid created?” Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett asked on Sunday on his Facebook page, and answered his own question: “Because of the Likud’s decision to leave the Jewish Home outside government.”
Bennett continued: “Without this coordination, the next government would have included Livni, Kadima, Shas, Yesh Atid, Likud, without Religious Zionism, without the Jewish Home. Such a government would have been speeding along Livni’s political line (giving up Jerusalem, giving up the city of Ariel, obsession with the PLO, etc.). This is a fact.”
Regardless of whether one can legitimately suggest that their speculation “is a fact,” sources in the Likud said in response that “the Jewish Home party was offered to be the first one to join the government. Even now, the only thing preventing the establishment of a government with a majority for the national camp is Bennett’s refusal to join the national camp government headed by Netanyahu.”
Last Friday, Jewish Home and Likud-Beitenu negotiation teams met in the Kfar Maccabiah resort, after more than a week of separation. MK Uri Ariel told IDF Radio after meeting that “we talked mainly about the subject of the ‘equal burden’ and the coalition guidelines, and will continue the meetings next week.”
Netanyahu’s goal in that meeting, too, was to separate the alliance between Bennett and Lapid, but Likud officials said that Netanyahu intends to be prime minister, and so he wouldn’t mind eventually to give in to those two, if he realizes that this is his only remaining option.
On his Facebook page, Bennett argued that it was his coordination with Lapid that “changed the map, forcing the Likud let the Jewish Home in.”
“Because of that coordination, the government will now focus on socioeconomic, internal issues, and not just on political issues (Meaning the peace process – JP)” such as lowering the cost of living, lowering housing prices, improving education to include values and promoting Jewish identity, and bolstering the Jewish presence in the Negev and Galilee),” Bennett added, as opposed to “only the obsessive engagement in talks with Abu Ala.”
Bennett went on to say that “between Yesh Atid and Jewish Home there are points of mutual agreement and points of disagreement. We will focus on implementing the things we agree on, which is quite a lot. We will continue to argue about the rest.”
During the Friday meeting between Jewish Home and Likud Beiteinu, Bennett’s team took up a key issue which previously had been advocated almost exclusively by Lapid’s party, demanding to force Haredi yeshivas to teach core curriculum subjects (Math, English, Science, Literature). A day earlier, according to Army Radio, Naftali Bennett met with Yair Lapid and with Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz, to form a three-way alliance in the coalition negotiations with Likud-Beitenu.
Bennett concluded his Facebook entry with a vow not to “deviate from our principles,” which is a bit baffling, considering his newfound commitment to the core curriculum issue, which is, essentially, someone else’s principle. But all of us can agree with his end statement, that “the public will judge us over the next four years.”
Or a lot sooner.