Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is furious at what he believes is a conspiracy by Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett to try to prevent Shas and United Torah Judaism from joining the coalition, Likud sources said Sunday.
Sources who attended Netanyahu's meeting with Likud ministers said he spoke of Lapid and Bennett with contempt, complaining that “their strategy is not to reach solutions on key issues, only to push out the haredi parties.”Ministers quoted Netanyahu as saying that Lapid and Bennett cared only about advancing themselves politically rather than the good of the country. Mocking Lapid's plan for equalizing the burden of IDF service, Netanyahu said “it will neither bring equality nor ease anyone's burden.”
Sources close to the prime minister went further, alleging that Lapid and Bennett were aiming to break the 36-year-old bond between Likud and the haredi parties so that following the next election they will not recommend that Netanyahu form the government.
The Likud ministers said Netanyahu clearly intends to keep the Foreign Affairs portfolio for his number two in Likud Beytenu Avigdor Liberman, even though he would not be able to become foreign minister until he would be cleared of the charges against him in his trial that begins in April. A Likud source said that if Netanyahu could trust Lapid, perhaps he would try to break out of his commitment with Liberman but he is far from that point now.