(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Likud has not ruled out sitting in a government with the Zionist Union party, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told Army Radio on Thursday morning.
He said however that the party would not agree to a rotation in the prime minister's office. "We haven't said no to anything, but it is clear that first we need to create a natural bloc, a natural coalition that is Right, and after, if someone wants to join they can."
The defense minister said he would happily stay on in the position after the elections, referring to the possibility of Economy Minister Naftali Bennett taking over, a portfolio that sources close to the Bayit Yehudi chairman say he wants.
Taking a jab at Bennett, Ya'alon said "For me, the defense ministry has never been a job. First of all, it's a great responsibility and very hard work. It's not a kids' game and not a role for empty slogans like we heard during Operation Protective Edge and after."
On Tuesday, Ya’alon and Bennett sparred over credit for deciding to destroy Hamas terrorist tunnels in Operation Protective Edge.
“The prime minister and I had to publicly criticize the behavior of some of the ministers in the cabinet during the operation [in the Gaza Strip last summer],” Ya’alon told Army Radio.
“Whoever tries to use a war for political reasons is anathema to me,” he added.
Ya’alon’s comments were an apparent reference to Bennett saying he was the first to bring a proposal to destroy Hamas’s tunnels to the security cabinet.
The Bayit Yehudi chairman has repeated his version of the events, which Ya’alon denies, over the course of the election campaign, saying that when the meetings’ minutes are declassified, he will be proven right.
The defense minister has also criticized Bennett for going out in the field on his own and speaking to soldiers and officers without coordinating with him.
Ya’alon refused to comment on whether or not Bennett is an appropriate candidate for defense minister, the portfolio that sources close to the Bayit Yehudi chairman say he wants, saying it depends on the coalition.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.