Bennett: Unity government with Arabs and Left-wing is now off the table

Likud and Yemina party members already met Thursday to discuss options for building a coalition.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

In a dramatic Thursday announcement, Yemina party chairman Naftali Bennett threw in the towel on the possibility of a unity government with left-wing and Arab partners.

“The government of change is off the table,” Bennett said, adding that he made his decision in light of the security situation.

Bennett said a unity government would not be able to cope with Israel’s defense needs at the moment, noting that the government will need to take forceful actions, including inserting the army into trouble spots and making arrests. He said such actions couldn’t be done in a government relying on Mansour Abbas, leader of the Islamist Ra’am party.

Israel has become embroiled in an operation in the Gaza Strip after Hamas attacked Jerusalem with rockets on Monday. The country is also dealing with Arab rioting within the country in numerous cities, which has led to counter-attacks by Jews.

The cracks in the opposition’s efforts became public on Monday when the Ra’am party dropped a bombshell that it was breaking off coalition talks because it couldn’t support a government that would “declare or back war against our people in Gaza.”

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Likud and Yemina party members already met Thursday to discuss options for building a coalition. However, a right-wing government is still short the 61-Knesset-seat minimum, making a fifth election appear the most likely prospect.

Bennett’s decision to try and form a government with parties ideologically opposed to his own was met with fury by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and as it became increasingly apparent, by Bennett’s own voters.

The Yemina leader was once warmly welcomed when he visited victims of Arab terror. When he made identical visits of solidarity after his decision to join the opposition, he was met with catcalls and ridicule.

His willingness to break several campaign promises, including never to join with anti-Zionist Arab parties, had cost him much in moral authority. The problem was nowhere more obvious than on social media. Tough-talking comments by Bennett, and his No. 2 Ayelet Shaked, were no longer cheered, but jeered.

Shaked tweeted on May 10: “Those who surrender on the Temple Mount in the first act receive missiles on Jerusalem in the second act. It’s either determination or weakness.” Instead of the praise that customarily followed such a tweet, she was condemned in a litany of criticism.

The first reply by Boaz Golan, a right-wing media figure with his own following, mocked: “Did Abbas dictate [that] to you?”