Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett for the first time explained the alliance between himself and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid on Sunday, emphasizing that he does not plan to compromise on the issue. In a status update on his Facebook page, Bennett wrote, “Why did we coordinate our steps with Yair Lapid? Because of the Likud’s decision to leave Habayit Hayehudi out of the government.”
“Were it not for this coordination,” Bennett wrote, “there would be a government of Livni, Kadima, Shas, Yesh Atid and Likud, without religious Zionism and without Habayit Hayehudi. This government would go full speed ahead with Livni’s policies (giving up Jerusalem, giving up the city of Ariel, an obsession with negotiating with the PLO, etc.) This is a fact.
“This coordination has changed the political map and forced the Likud to bring in Habayit Hayehudi. Because of this coordination, the government will be focused on social, economic and domestic issues, and not just diplomatic ones. This government will focus on social and economic issues in Israel (lowering the cost of living, lowering the cost of apartments, education, values, promoting Jewish identity, strengthening the Negev and Galilee), and will not only obsessively preoccupy itself with talking to Abu Ala [former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei].
“Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi have points in common, as well as points of dispute,” wrote Bennett. “Let’s focus on realizing what we have in common, and that’s a lot. We’ll continue to argue about the rest. We will not deviate from our principles. The public can judge us over the next four years.”
Channel 10 TV News reported on Sunday night that settler leaders are demanding that Bennett enter a government with a nationalist majority. According to the report, settler leaders Zev (Zambish) Hever and Pinchas Wallerstein are putting pressure on MKs from Habayit Hayehudi. “There is no logic in going with Lapid under any circumstances,” said Wallerstein. “Bennett is trying to turn Netanyahu into his puppet. He wants to crush the Likud. This does not serve nationalist goals.”
A senior Likud source said on Sunday that, “Netanyahu would like to bring Habayit Hayehudi into the government and has directed his negotiating staff to do everything in its power to make sure this happens. Likud-Beytenu has no problem with the alliance between Bennett and Lapid and sees them both as desirable partners. The problem is that both parties condition their joining on the exclusion of other parties that belong to the nationalist camp and that expressed support for Netanyahu during the elections. The prime minister will not agree to creating a tear in the fabric of the nation or disqualifying an entire voting public.”
Likud-Beytenu responded in a statement that “Habayit Hayehudi was the first party to receive an offer to enter the government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu. Habayit Hayehudi’s central promise to its voters was that it would join a government headed by Netanyahu, strengthening it from the right. At present, the only thing preventing the establishment of a government with a majority in the nationalist camp is the refusal of Habayit Hayehudi to join the government headed by Netanyahu. The prime minister calls for a government with a majority in the nationalist camp and invites Yesh Atid to join it as well.”
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