Although Bennett refused to commit to endorsing the prime minister in July, he now says the newly named Yemini faction will back Netanyahu all the way.
By World Israel News Staff
Naftali Bennett, a former cabinet minister and now a candidate on the Yemina (Rightward) list running in the September 17 Knesset election, says the right-wing faction will recommend that incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu get the nod to form the next government after the election.
“I will say this as clearly and explicitly as possible: The Yemina party will recommend Netanyahu as prime minister of the State of Israel,” Bennett stated.
Public opinion polls have shown a neck-and-neck race between Netanyahu’s Likud Party and Blue and White, headed by MK Benny Gantz, as the largest factions in the next parliament.
The right appears to have an upper hand in achieving a parliamentary majority to form a government coalition. However, the balance of power seems to lie in the hands of Israel Beteinu party leader MK Avigdor Liberman, whose refusal to join a Netanyahu government after April’s election led to the calling of another national ballot to take place just months later.
In July interviews, Bennett refused to commit to endorsing the prime minister in the consultations with the state’s president, which take place after a Knesset election.
“I’ll recommend the right-wing candidate with the greatest chances of forming a government,” he said at the time on Army Radio.
On Tuesday, Yemina leader Ayelet Shaked said, “We are a right-wing party, in terms of values and ideology, and we will recommend a right-wing candidate for prime minister. Benjamin Netanyahu is the head of the largest right-wing party, right now.”
Senior Likud figures had criticized Bennett and his colleagues for showing hesitation.
“There is no right-wing candidate for prime minister except for Netanyahu. Therefore you won’t be able to recommend any other candidate for prime minister except for Netanyahu,” Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev said in July.
Netanyahu has succeeded in recent Knesset elections to gain Likud seats at the expense of Bennett and Shaked by convincing conservative voters that a vote for the larger Likud is a more secure way of ensuring a right-wing government than voting for a smaller bloc.
Bennett and Shaked have countered that voting for them would keep Netanyhau honest in maintaining right-wing values despite temptations from more centrist elements.