Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu intends to form a centrist coalition with The
Tzipi Livni Party rather than with natural partners on the Right, Bayit Yehudi
chairman Naftali Bennett said Monday in a briefing to Jerusalem Post staff at
the newspaper’s headquarters in the capital’s Romema neighborhood.
Netanyahu attacked Bennett over the last few weeks, Bennett made a point of
turning the other cheek and not responding to the man who he hopes will include
his party in a coalition he will form after the January 22 election. But he did
not refrain from unleashing his criticism of Netanyahu on Monday, in part
because he has become skeptical that he will be part of the next
“It’s my sense that Netanyahu wants to form a coalition with
Tzipi Livni like last time, when he formed a government with [Defense Minister]
Ehud Barak as his primary partner,” Bennett said. “My sense is it’s a done deal.
You can see from the way Livni is talking about not ruling out joining a
Bennett said that if he thought he would be in the
coalition, he would be satisfied with winning fewer seats. However, due to his
fear that Netanyahu would prefer Center-Left parties, he believes he needs to
take seats from Likud “and make sure we put a third hand on the wheel of the bus
The Bayit Yehudi leader said Netanyahu damaged Israel
tremendously by coming out at his June 2009 Bar-Ilan University speech in favor
of a Palestinian state, which Bennett said would be national suicide for
A former director-general of the Council of Jewish Communities in
Judea and Samaria, Bennett’s diplomatic plan calls for annexing the
Israeli-controlled Area C in the West Bank, which he said had some 400,000 Jews
and 50,000 Arabs. He would create geographic continuity between the remaining
areas of the West Bank that would be controlled by the Palestinians in an entity
that would either be autonomous or confederated with Jordan.
“I know that
if we apply Israeli law to Area C, the world won’t recognize it, but now they
don’t recognize our control over the Golan Heights, the Ramot and French Hill
neighborhoods of Jerusalem and even the Western Wall,” Bennett said. “We are
going to have to change the world’s view. It will be a challenge but we have to
start somewhere to reverse this terrible impression that a Palestinian state is
a fait accompli. We are a car going toward the cliff and we have to reverse
Nevertheless, Bennett said that under his leadership, Bayit Yehudi
would not obsess over the Palestinian issue and would focus more on preserving
Jewish identity and lower housing costs and other prices.
centers for the handicapped in Beersheba is no less important for us than
preserving the Land of Israel,” he said. “I am a Land of Israel man, but if we
forget that we have to take care of all of the people of Israel, our party will
be a one-hit wonder.”
Bennett said he was pleased that polls show 30
percent of his party’s voters were secular and that his party leads all others
among voters under 45. He said that he initially had a problem with name
recognition, but Netanyahu fixed that problem by publicly attacking
He promised to “be a four-year slave of the public, working hard day
and night for the people of Israel,” rather than serving rabbis or
Bennett, whose parents made aliya from San Francisco before he
was born, said his mother and father raised him with an appreciation for the
“As a child growing up in Haifa, my parents would send me every
morning to the store to get The Jerusalem Post,” he said.
contributed to this report.
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