Netanyahu lashes out at Bennett as mandate slips away from him

Netanyahu insisted that Bennett was only driven by his desire to be prime minister. 

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Naftali Bennett in a speech Wednesday evening as it appeared for the first time in years that his days as prime minister are really numbered.

Netanyahu’s press conference came after Bennett expressed readiness to support a national unity government and opposition leader Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party received the mandate to form a government. Lapid will have 28 days to do so.

Those two announcements now create a realistic chance that a new government will be formed, one without Netanyahu as prime minister.

Netanyahu vented by blasting Bennett and his No. 2, Ayelet Shaked, for turning their backs on their voters. He praised Yemina member Amichai Chikli, who wrote a letter to Bennett opposing the decision to work with opposition parties. The letter was leaked to website N12 on Wednesday.

“Bennett and Shaked have sworn to the public that they will not go to such a government with Lapid, Meretz and Labor,” Netanyahu said.

“Bennett even signed it in writing the day before the election. Now Bennett and Shaked are doing the exact opposite – they are violating all their obligations. That’s the reason MK Amichai Shakili boldly said he was not willing to be part of this government,” he added.

Netanyahu also said that Bennett was driven by the desire to be prime minister, even to the point that he would join a left-wing government that would, in his view, endanger the state.

Netanyahu said that in meetings with Bennett, the latter only had one demand – that he be prime minister first for two years. “He raised that requirement not only in private, but in all the meetings that took place between our team and his own,” the prime minister said.

The speech was similar in style and substance to one he made on April 21, when he said, addressing Bennett : “You are willing to do anything to be the left-wing prime minister in the embrace of the Left.”

Bennett made an appeal to other right-wing parties to join him earlier in the evening.

“Whoever cynically takes the State of Israel to a fifth election based on personal interests in stark contrast to the needs of the state – the people will not forgive him. It is time to form a unity government,” Bennett said.

“All right-wing parties are invited in. Be brave… There is only one line that guides us: Not a fifth election. Whoever does not join the unity government, harms unity. Whoever tries to lead us to a fifth election will find us against him.”