The Yamina Party on Sunday morning said it will be sitting in the opposition in the coming Knesset. It accused the incoming government of being left-wing and said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had shown “gross disrespect” toward the right-wing party.
In a bitter and bellicose press statement announcing its decision, Yamina attacked Netanyahu’s right-wing credentials over the justice system and policies toward Hamas in Gaza. It said it was preparing for the post-Netanyahu political era.
“In light of the composition of the government and its apparent policies as a left-wing government headed by Netanyahu, and in light of the gross disrespect of the prime minister toward Yamina and its voters, Yamina has decided to serve the public in the opposition in the coming term and to fight from there for the nationalist camp,” the party said in a press statement.
The decision had been made after exhaustive negotiations with the Likud, which “chose to dismantle the right-wing camp and its right-wing partners,” Yamina said.
The party said it would “prepare for the day after Netanyahu,” which it said would come “in six months,” and would form a “real, right-wing alternative” to the Likud while in the opposition.
Yamina is “a right-wing [party] that is not prepared to sell out the justice system to the Left for personal survival,” it said in its statement, referring to the concessions Netanyahu and the Likud made to Blue and White over control of the Justice Ministry, influence over judicial appointments and those of senior law-enforcement officials.
Yamina’s statement attacked Netanyahu for what it described as his willingness to ingratiate himself to Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. It accused him of “selling Judaism to politicos,” referring to the prime minister’s deference to the haredim (ultra-Orthodox) on matters of religion and state.
Later on Sunday, the party leaders convened to discuss their position and issued a statement along similar lines.
Senior Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked used somewhat softer language, saying that “as it looks now,” Netanyahu was not interested in bringing the party into the coalition.
Yamina sources said the Likud had not yet established a real team for negotiations with Yamina, adding that this attitude called into question whether Netanyahu had ever been serious about bringing the religious-Zionist party into the coalition.
“Until now, [the Likud] have not called us for negotiations,” Shaked said, adding that instead, party officials have received a series of vague offers by telephone.
The former justice minister said at issue was not only ministries but also other positions of influence, such as the chairmanship of the Committee for Appointing Rabbinical Judges, which was given to Shas without discussion, the chairmanship of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee and other posts.
“This is not how you conduct negotiations with a partner,” Shaked said.
In response, the Likud asked whether Yamina would have entered the government if it would have received another ministerial portfolio, as it had demanded.
“This will be the first government in the history of the state that will apply sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, and it is a shame that Yamina will not be part of this just because of internal fights over the allocation of ministerial portfolios,” Likud said in a press release. “We hope Yamina will regain its composure, demonstrate national responsibility and enter a government that will lead a historic process in the history of Zionism.”
Separately, Netanyahu met with former Knesset speaker and senior Likud MK Yuli Edelstein, who asked for his old job back.
Blue and White demanded that Edelstein be denied the position since in March he defied a decision made by the High Court of Justice to hold a vote on appointing a speaker when it was inevitable that Edelstein would have been replaced.
According to Channel 13, Edelstein is now likely to be given the Education Ministry, while cabinet minister and Netanyahu loyalist Yariv Levin will become speaker.
Other senior ministries to be given to Likud members include Justice Minister Amir Ohana and another Netanyahu loyalist, who is likely to be the new internal security minister, and Foreign Minister Israel Katz, who is set to become the new finance minister.
Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev has been offered the role of transportation minister.