Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday met with the Likud’s negotiating team regarding continued contacts with Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett, and according to Kan 11 News, Yamina officials had sent a message to the Likud that “the deal with the [‘Shinui’] change bloc is not dead yet.” The change bloc is the ever-illusive coalition of right-to-left parties and the Arabs whose one unifying goal is the removal of Netanyahu from his official residence on Balfour Street.
Those Yamina sources said that should negotiations between their party and Likud are not quick and serious, they have not yet taken off the table the possibility of joining the anti-Bibi forces in the Knesset.
Last Thursday, journalist Yair Sherki, who is close to the religious Zionist camp, reported that Bennett had ended talks with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and resumed negotiations with the Likud party, because, according to Bennett, a government that would rely on the Islamic Ra’am party would not be able to function in the current security situation.
But Bennett has not issued a statement announcing that he is ending negotiations with the left-wing bloc, and updated Lapid before going public with the statement that he was discarding the notion of a unity government with Ra’am chairman Mansour Abbas’s support. The two agreed to renew their contact as soon as there was a lull in the security crisis.
I reported here last Friday that the reason for Bennett’s withdrawal from the talks with the left was a blatant threat from his partner of almost two decades, MK Ayelet Shaked (Ayelet Shaked Gave Bennett an Ultimatum: Either You Quit the Lapid Talks or We Split).
Lapid responded to Bennett’s decision in a statement to the media: “I heard tonight Naftali Bennett’s announcement that he does not see feasibility for the change government under the current circumstances. I understand his distress, but he is wrong. Change is not made when it’s convenient. Whoever waits for the right moment will find that it will never come. Change is made when you believe it’s the right thing to do. When you believe your way is right.”
Lapid added: “I have no intention of giving up. I will continue to turn every stone to form a government in the coming weeks. There are another 20 days to the expiration of my mandate, in political terms, it’s an eternity. We will continue to fight and if we do not succeed, we will go to the most unnecessary and dangerous elections in the history of the country and we will win. We will win in the name of those who refuse to accept violence and hatred. In the name of all the good Israelis who refuse to accept a government that tears us apart from within as a method of working.”