With just one day remaining for him to form a coalition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that he was ready to step aside as premier and let Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett serve as prime minister first in a rotation agreement — a proposal immediately dismissed by Bennett, who said in response that Netanyahu simply doesn’t have the votes.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Yair Lapid said he expected President Reuven Rivlin to task him with forming a government after Netanyahu’s 28-day period to do so ends Tuesday night, “if nothing surprising happens” before then, but that he would willing to let Bennett serve first as prime minister in any rotation agreement between them.
Speaking in a video message released on his social media accounts, Netanyahu said that in his negotiations with Bennett, “I told him I am willing to accept his demand for a rotation deal in which he will serve first as prime minister for one year. Yamina party members will enter the government and Knesset with important roles.”
“In a post 10 days ago, Bennett wrote that a right-wing government could be formed if I move aside for the first year. So I moved aside. Now it’s your turn,” Netanyahu said in a direct plea to the Yamina chair. “Personal boycotts and personal rivalries within the right must not prevent the formation of a right-wing government.” (Last month, Netanyahu had derided Bennett’s “absurd ambition” and said the idea of the head of a party with just seven seats becoming prime minister was “anti-democratic.”)
Bennett, however, said he had never asked to be prime minister and reiterated his previous pledge to join Netanyahu only if the incumbent can come up with enough Knesset support for a coalition; if not, Bennett said, he would back an alternative government.
Read more at Times of Israel.