Israel Election: Bennett Sees Slim Chances of Netanyahu-led Coalition, but Set to Meet Him for Negotiations

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett speaks to the press, today.
Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett speaks to the press, today.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to meet with Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett on Thursday as part of his efforts to build a coalition.

Sources who spoke to Bennett are of the impression that he believes Netanyahu has little chance of forming a government, and that it is more likely that the anti-Netanyahu bloc will form one instead, even though major disagreements remain among the bloc's disparate parties.

LISTEN: On trial and struggling to cobble a coalition, bankrupt Bibi is teetering on the brink

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During Tuesday's Yamina faction meeting, Bennett said that he views a coalition he would participate in as one that "reflects the distribution of opinions in the nation, the national consensus – that is, a rightward orientation." Last week, in discussions with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, Bennett insisted that the government, which should be formed mainly by center-right parties, advance “soft-right” policies.

In conversations with associates, Bennett made clear that the government he seeks will not advance Yamina's far-right views, but will remain closer to the center of the political map. Sources in both Yamina and Yesh Atid said the two parties need more time and discussions to come to an agreement that will be acceptable to both.

Meanwhile, Bennett intends to let Netanyahu try to form a government, even if his chances are slim. Bennett said he would seek to establish a stable right-wing government to avoid a fifth election. “I don’t know a lot of politicians who were faced with the realistic, immediate option to be prime minister and didn’t pounce on it,” he told his faction. “I didn’t have a dilemma. I will never abandon my values, the values of Zionism and unity, for any job.”

He clarified that he would not join a government that promoted leftist values, and took aim at Religious Zionism chairman Bezalel Smotrich with veiled criticism. "There are some who call themselves right-wing who have no problem with dragging Israel into another election cycle," he said. "There are no ideals there, just ambitions."

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