Bennett Says Lapid Government Is Off the Table, Renews Talks With Netanyahu's Likud

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Naftali Bennett waves after leaving a meeting with party leaders opposed to Benjamin Netanyahu, last week.
Naftali Bennett waves after leaving a meeting with party leaders opposed to Benjamin Netanyahu, last week.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Yamina leader Naftali Bennett has said in a closed-door meeting between members of his party and Likud representatives on Thursday that a "government of change," composed of the parties that seek to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is off the table.

He said that given the state of emergency in mixed Arab-Jewish cities, the planned makeup of the government led by Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Bennett won't be able to manage the situation because it has become necessary to deploy military troops and conduct arrests. He said that doing so would be impossible with Mansour Abbas and his United Arab List party.

Bennett said he now prefers a large unity government.

In a statement, Lapid said that he will continue his efforts to build a government, despite Bennett's decision. "We have a mission, a shared mission, to put this nation back on the right path," Lapid said. Lapid emphasized that the new government must uphold rule of law, calling the recent violence between Jews and Arabs "an existential threat" to the nation. 

Abbas told Channel 12, that Bennett had personally broken the news to him earlier Thursday evening.

"We have no deal with Bennett and no deal with Netanyahu. We managed our coalition talks with both sides with full transparency," Abbas said. "We said we wouldn't be a part of the coalition talks, but we would bring them to conclusion."

On Sunday, Bennett met with Abbas, leading members of his party to believe that a government would have been formed within days. 

Sources in Yamina believed at that point that Abbas would support a government led by Bennett and Lapid so long as his demands were met. Abbas did not finish outlining his demands during his meeting with Bennett, but political sources said he was interested in joining the government. 

The United Arab List party froze coalition talks on Monday in the wake of escalations in Jerusalem and the south.

The negotiating teams of all the parties seeking to replace Netanyahu suspended coalition talks on Tuesday in wake of the continually worsening situation. 

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