Bennett and Netanyahu shake hands in Knesset .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s associates sent a message to New Right leader Naftali Bennett on Sunday saying that he could be appointed Israeli ambassador to the United Nations if he refrains from running in the September 17 election, according to a report by Army Radio’s Yanir Cozin.
But a source who spoke about the idea with Bennett himself said he was not interested in the job.
Sources close to Netanyahu and Bennett confirmed the report to The Jerusalem Post, saying the story was initiated by an activist close to Bennett who brought the idea to the prime minister.
Netanyahu’s associates liked the idea because they are concerned that there are too many parties running to the Right of Likud. In the April election, the New Right and Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut Party did not cross the electoral threshold, and 256,629 votes were lost.
The idea was liked in Likud because getting Bennett out of the way would make it easier to form a joint list on the Right, and it would keep Bennett far away when there is a future leadership battle on the Right in the post-Netanyahu era.
Bennett’s office initially responded to the report saying just that the New Right would “run in the election with all our might in order to be a strong and powerful force in the next government. Any other offer is irrelevant.”
But three hours later, Bennett’s spokesman issued a firm denial, saying that “Bennett did not receive any offer from the prime minister or anyone close to Netanyahu, and he is not interested in any position other than leading the New Right to success in the election.”
Netanyahu has formally offered the post to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who had declined such an offer in 2011, and who has not made a decision yet. If Erdan rejects the post, it is expected to be offered to Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis, who is likely to accept it.
Current Ambassador Danny Danon is expected to end his term in the next two months.
Meanwhile, the New Right’s Ayelet Shaked is continuing negotiations about her political future with the Union of Right-Wing Parties. KAN reported on Sunday that she initially demanded to become the party leader and reserve 50% of the list for her followers. The report said that Shaked was now willing to drop one of the demands.
Sources close to Shaked said URP leader Rafi Peretz’s chances of being first on the list were harmed by his recent controversial comments about psychological treatments to convert homosexuals, intermarriage creating another Holocaust, and that a religious list cannot be led by a secular woman.
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