Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett expressed the hope on Monday that ongoing coalition talks with PM Binyamin Netanyahu would soon lead to the formation of a new Israeli government.
"I hope that Israel will have a government soon," Bennett told Walla! news, a day after he met with Netanyahu to discuss terms for joining the coalition. Bennett has teamed up with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, to create a solid front aimed at excluding the ultra-Orthodox parties from the next coalition. With Yesh Atid's 19 seats and Bayit Yehuda's 12 seats, united the two parties have equal prominence in the next Knesset as Netanyahu's Likud-Beytenu faction.
While Netanyahu initially accused Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi of an "unacceptable" boycott of an entire population group, the Lapid-Bennett tactic seemed to have paid off Sunday. The prime minister began working on formulating a coalition without the haredi parties, first breaking the news to Shas and then resuming his talks with Bayit Yehudi.
Even so, the negotiations between Netanyahu and his one-time aide Bennett are not running entirely smoothly. Attorney David Shimron, head of the Likud-Beytenu negotiating team on Sunday continued his attacks on the Bayit Yehudi party over its refusal to join the coalition without Yesh Atid.
In an interview with Army Radio, Shimron also ridiculed Bennett's request that Likud-Beytenu cancel its coalition agreement with Tzipi Livni's Hatnua party. "Is this a child's game?" What is this nonsense?" he asked.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.