Thursday’s meeting marked the first time in several years that Bennett was invited to the PM’s residence, reportedly due to a feud between the Yemina leader and Sara Netanyahu.
By World Israel News Staff
Since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was tasked with forming a government this week, the Israeli leader has been struggling to woo right-wing parties to join a Likud-led coalition.
The Likud won 30 seats in the national election, by far the most of any other party. Next in line is the center-left Yesh Atid with 17. To date, Netanyahu has 52 endorsements and Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid has 45. A minimum of 61 is necessary.
On Thursday evening, Netanyahu met with Yemina leader Naftali Bennett at the PM’s residence. It was the first time in several years that Bennett was invited there, reportedly due to Sara Netanyahu’s animosity towards him. The meeting lasted for over two hours.
“The meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett just concluded. The meeting was conducted in a good spirit and in a positive atmosphere. It was agreed that they would meet again,” according to a joint statement issued by Likud and Yemina.
Bennett has only seven endorsements but has been declared somewhat of a kingmaker. Lapid was aiming for a rotational government in which Bennett would be prime minister first, but the Yemina leader has not accepted the offer.
“Since the election, countless Israelis have appealed to me, literally pleading, to get the State of Israel out of the ongoing chaos,” Bennett said in a statement before his meeting with Netanyahu. “I come here with a lot of good will and I pledge to do everything I can to rescue Israel from the chaos and to establish a good and stable government for the State of Israel. It is time for national responsibility.”
Also ahead of the meeting, Religious Zionism party leader Bezalel Smotrich, also in a sit-down with the prime minister at his residence, agreed to try to convince Bennett not to participate in forming a “left-wing government,” Smotrich’s spokesperson said.
Even if Bennett agrees to join a Likud government, the struggle will not be over, as Netanyahu would still be short two seats.