|Lapid Netanyahu at Knesset swear in 370.(Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)|
Lapid sends olive branch to Netanyahu
By GIL HOFFMAN
After 'Post' report, Yesh Atid leader says he will not try to topple PM; Naftali Bennett also calls for serious talks.
Yair Lapid sent a message to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday,
reassuring him that he could be trusted if he includes Yesh Atid in the
coalition, sources close to Lapid said.
Lapid sent the message after
hearing from The Jerusalem Post that Netanyahu had told Likud ministers on
Sunday that the Yesh Atid leader cared only about advancing himself politically
rather than the good of the country. Netanyahu had been angered by a statement
made by Lapid in which he hinted that he intended to run and win the premiership
in the next election.
“We will not undermine you or topple you,” Lapid
told Netanyahu. “We want the next government to serve out its term. We have
goals to reach and accomplishments to achieve. Do not worry.”
connected to Likud Beytenu’s negotiating team downplayed the message from Lapid
and said it could not be taken seriously if it was delivered via the press. He
said he did not know whether the prime minister had also received it
Earlier, Lapid complained to his faction that no negotiations
were taking place with his party. He expressed frustration that Likud Beytenu
wanted to talk about ministerial appointments rather than the government’s
“What matters is not portfolios but where Netanyahu wants to
lead the nation, to what goals, and according to what values,” Lapid
“Once he knows that, it will be easy to form a
Bayit Yehudi party leader Naftali Bennett, who also faced
Netanyahu’s wrath in his talk with Likud ministers, joined Lapid’s complaint
about the lack of negotiations.
“The government should be formed as soon
as possible,” Bennett said. “As soon as [Likud Beytenu] decides to conduct
negotiations, I believe it will take 24 hours to reach an agreement. But
important principles must be resolved before portfolios.”
A senior Likud
official responding to Bennett said that there have been negotiations with his
party on all the key issues, including equalizing the draft, the peace process
and security. The official said Bayit Yehudi was offered to be the first party
to join the government but it rejected the offer and said it would not join a
coalition without Yesh Atid.
Likud officials maintained hope that if Yesh
Atid and Bayit Yehudi were left out of the coalition, Labor could join instead,
perhaps with Yacimovich becoming finance minister and acting Knesset Speaker
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer maintaining his current job. But Labor leader Shelly
Yacimovich said unequivocally that joining the government was not an option for
“There is a huge gap between us and Netanyahu,” she
“We were contractors of Netanyahu last time, and we know how far
that made us fall.
People say we have to join the government to prevent
it from being [so bad]. What are we, contraceptives? No portfolio, no matter how
senior, will tempt us.”