Yamina Chairman Naftali Bennett said on Monday at the start of his Knesset faction meeting that Yamina would join any right-wing government led by any right-wing prime minister.
“Time is running out, only one week is left to form a government and prevent a deterioration into perpetual chaos,” Bennett said. “I call on my friends on all sides to compromise and take responsibility.”
“There are two options,” Bennett explained. “The first priority for us is a right-wing government. Yamina will join any right-wing government led by Netanyahu or any other right-wing man who has the ability to lead the government from within the Likud or from without.”
Bennett noted that the gaps in the negotiations for the formation of a unity government are not small, and include “matters of substance in the areas of the judiciary and the settlements. Unity is not an easy thing, because it’s about different worldviews. It requires restraint on all sides.”
“We insist that the government reflect the composition of the Knesset,” Bennett said, referring to the fact that right-wing parties hold 72 seats in the House, despite the severe conflicts between at least three of these parties—Yamina, New Hope, and Israel Beiteinu—and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I can’t guarantee that our efforts will bear fruit,” Bennett said, “But I do promise to turn every stone in the remaining week to prevent a fifth election.”
New Hope Chairman Gideon Sa’ar said on Monday that there are difficulties in forming a unity government, “and today, too, I can’t say whether it will be established, but it is important to exhaust this effort – not at any cost,” Sa’ar said.
The Ra’am faction is expected to vote on Monday with the Likud in the Knesset Arrangements Committee in exchange for the chairmanship of the new Arab Affairs Committee, whose establishment was announced at Monday’s Arrangements Committee meeting by its chairman (for the time being) MK Miki Zohar (Likud). The move will allow the Likud to gain a majority in the committee, arguably the most important at the beginning of the newly-elected Knesset.
MK Esawi Frej (Meretz) protested vociferously, saying that the new committee was a political bribe. Other committee members demanded to know whether this was going to be a temporary or a permanent committee, and would it take over the powers of other committees.
MK Zohar replied that the committee would deal with specific issues related to Arab society.
MK Frej suggested that with the establishment of the committee, Arab society would become a ghetto. “This committee will remove Arab society from Israeli society,” he warned. “The vision of a population transfer is beginning to materialize.”
MK Walid Taha (Ra’am) defended the establishment of the new Arab Affairs committee and said it was in everybody’s common interest. When asked if the committee would also address issues of the LGBT community inside Arab society he did not answer.
MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint Arab List) told Taha: “This committee is meaningless when you are being protected by [Likud MK and advocate of deporting illegal migrants] Mai Golan. The Joint List calls for the establishment of a committee to combat crime.”
Tibi turned to the committee members from Yesh Atid and told them, referring to the negotiations between Yair Lapid and Bennett: “The bloc of change – you come here and Yamina is walking all over your head, how can you agree to this? You are being squeezed out at the nethermost level. Do you think it’s raining? They are spitting in your face, you at Yesh Atid.”
MK Orit Struck of Religious Zionism stated that her faction recognizes there are Arab citizens in the country and therefore wholeheartedly supports the resolution of all the problems of the Arab sector.
“We have no preference for it to be dealt with in one committee or different committees,” she stated.
Meanwhile, the Likud party’s constitution committee on Sunday approved a request by Prime Minister Netanyahu to authorize him to submit a joint slate of Likud candidates to the 25th Knesset, should a fifth election be declared. The ruling allows Netanyahu to include members of Bennett’s and Sa’ar parties in the Likud slate.
The decision requires the approval of the Likud Center, who will be voting on the matter this coming Wednesday. Netanyahu’s proposal led to a clash with Likud Center chairman and Finance Minister Israel Katz, who claimed Netanyahu “deprives me of my authority. I will not allow one man to make all the connections.”