Opposition MK rejects Lapid’s statement, would consider unity gov’t with Netanyahu

Yesh Atid’s Elazar Stern publicly rejected his party’s line that it could never sit together with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

An Opposition MK went on record Monday that he’d consider joining a unity government even though his party has rejected the idea outright.

Yesh Atid’s Elazar Stern told Army Radio in an interview that he would be “very happy if such a suggestion would go on the table” and that his faction would then discuss it.

“I was never against the possibility of an extremist-free unity government,” the former intelligence minister said.

Party sources immediately reacted negatively to Haaretz, stating that Stern stood alone with his opinion.

“It wouldn’t be unity but a Netanyahu government that would continue to lie to the public, and as we promised, we will not sit under an accused prime minister,” they said.

Three corruption cases combined into one expanded trial are still ongoing against the prime minister, who has been charged with fraud, breach of trust and bribery. As yet, he has not been proven guilty, with some saying the crimes were invented in order to destroy him. The trial is expected to continue for at least several more months.

Party head and Opposition leader MK Yair Lapid also made it clear last month that he would never agree to a unity government.

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“I am a decent person, and this would be the death of decency,” he told Ynet. “If we declare that there is no opposition in Israel to the idea of corruption and to the destruction of all Israeli values … this does not save the country, it destroys everything that this country represents.”

Stern tempered his remarks by saying such a coalition would be highly unlikely as the offer would have to “come from the Prime Minister,” and “Netanyahu has not said that he’s ready.”

Two weeks ago, when certain Likud members floated the idea of a national unity government., Stern told Ynet that he would not immediately rule it out because “I’m a man of unity, I’ve always said that,” but that “the first step to unity must be a call from the prime minister who destroyed the country.”

According to an Israel Hayom survey taken at that time, just after the coalition pushed through the emendation of the reasonableness clause as its first, and so far only, judicial reform, against massive public protests, a national unity government was the most popular choice of the respondents, at 35%. Only 29% preferred the current coalition, while 27% opted for a Center-Left government.