“We made a final attempt to leave an opening for a right-wing government, but Netanyahu slammed the door on us,” Bennett said.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Yemina party leader Naftali Bennett on Wednesday called for an emergency government of national unity, asking all right-wing parties to join a coalition in order to avoid a fifth Israeli national election in just over two years.
“We made a final attempt to leave an opening for a right-wing government, but Netanyahu slammed the door on us,” Bennett said in a speech broadcast from the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
“There are two options: to be dragged to a fifth, sixth and seventh election that will simply destroy the country, or to establish a broad emergency government, although it would be challenging, but one that will be able to get the wagon unstuck from the mud,” he said.
Bennett called on other right-wing parties to stop and think of a new path, saying whoever “cynically takes the State of Israel to a fifth elections on the basis of personal interests, in complete opposition to the needs of the people and state, the people won’t forgive him. This is the time to establish a unity government.”
“Don’t complain about the reality – make the reality,” Bennett said. “Have courage. The door is open to all parties for the need of creating a government.”
“Whoever does not join a unity government hurts unity,” he warned, but admitted that the efforts might not succeed and such a government was not natural for the parties that normally consider themselves adversaries.
“There have been differences of opinion throughout the entire history of the State of Israel, and Israel knew how to get out of it,” Bennett said.
Bennett previously served in coalition governments under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but chose to sit in opposition last year when Netanyahu convinced Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, who replaced Bennett as defense minister, to join a unity government.
“Bennett is all in. He’s finally ditched Netanyahu. That’s the bottom line of his statement,” tweeted Haaretz political analyst Anshel Pfeffer.
Earlier Wednesday, parties representing 56 Knesset members told President Reuven Rivlin that they support center-left Yesh Atid Party leader Yair Lapid to try to form a government. Lapid has already offered that he and Bennett would rotate as prime minister, with Bennett taking first turn during the coalition government’s first year in office.
“Lapid is about to get the mandate from Rivlin, but Bennett is the one giving the statement ‘we will form the government,’” tweeted Pfeffer. “If this government does come in to being, that will be the form. Lapid will be the one with the real power but he’ll let Bennett do most of the talking.”