Bennett Says Ready to Join Right-wing Government With Netanyahu's Likud

Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with Yamina's Bennett for coalition talks after statement, and the two agree to continue negotiations

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Bennett at a Yamina faction meeting, today.
Bennett at a Yamina faction meeting, today.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett said on Monday that he told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his Likud party can count on his faction's vote to form a right-wing government.

The two met at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem shortly after Bennett's statement. A joint statement said they agreed negotiation teams would continue talks.

"As you may already know, I could've already been a prime minister by now," Bennett said on the matter on Monday. "But, my main objective is to thwart a fifth election round," he added.

Last week, President Reuven Rivlin tasked Netanyahu with forming a government after he received the highest number of recommendations, 52. With Yamina's seven seats added to his bloc, Netanyahu still remains short of the necessary 61-seat majority to form a coalition.

Netanyahu now has 21 days left to try and form a coalition before May 4, although he may receive a two-week extension from the president once that time has elapsed.

The premier is trying to convince the far-right Religious Zionism party to join a right-wing government with support from the United Arab List. As of now, Netanyahu's biggest obstacle is Religious Zionism's head Bezalel Smotrich. Due to Smotrich's promise that he will not cooperate with Arab lawmakers, Netanyahu has to find a way to synthesize a working coalition.

Netanyahu and Bennett met last week, in a "positive atmosphere," according to a joint statement from the two party leaders. 

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