Bayit Yehudi: Likud Beytenu is not talking to us

Ayelet Shaked says party did not set conditions to joining the coalition; Likud MKs criticize Bayit Yehudi for failing to join gov't; Akunis: Bayit Yehudi is bluntly breaking its explicit promise to join the coalition.

Ayelet Shaked 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Ayelet Shaked 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Bayit Yehudi MKs Ayelet Shaked and Nissan Slomiansky accused Likud Beytenu on Thursday of failing to negotiate with the party.
"We want to be a part of the [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu government, we're his natural partners. But right now no one is negotiating with us," Shaked told Army Radio.
On Wednesday, Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett called on Likud Beytenu to conduct coalition negotiations with his party, despite mounting pressure from within the party to shun Netanyahu after the prime minister broke a campaign promise not to allow Livni to be involved in negotiations with the Palestinians.
“The negotiations are on the prime minister’s shoulder and we want to give him a hand,” Bennett said. “For decades we were natural partners. In the campaign, we were blatantly smeared. Something in our partnership unraveled, but it is not too late to fix it.”
Shaked defended her party, saying the faction was not setting any conditions to join the coalition.
She added that Bayit Yehudi is prepared for all options, including going to elections again or sitting in the opposition.
Likud officials meanwhile have taken to the radio on Thursday morning to call on Bayit Yehudi to join the government.
"Naftali Bennett will not work to thwart the forming of the government, this goes against the worldview of Bayit Yehudi voters," Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) told Army Radio.
Unnamed Likud officials asserted to Army Radio that Bennett has no choice but to join the government, because voters would be angry with him if Netanyahu is forced to go to elections again because of Bayit Yehudi's refusal to join the government. Bayit Yehudi voters would also be angry with the party's head if Netanyahu forms a government with Tzipi Livni, Labor and Kadima that excludes the faction, the Likud officials said.
Ophir Akunis (Likud) criticized Bayit Yehudi for breaking the "historic alliance" between the National Religious Party (NRP) and Likud.
"Bayit Yehudi is bluntly breaking its explicit promise to join the government," Akunis told Israel Radio, citing the faction's campaign slogan that asserted Bayit Yehudi and Likud are stronger together.
"Myself and my friends at the Likud are getting hundreds of phone calls [from citizens] asking 'what is going on? Is it possible that the NRP, Bayit Yehudi, is the one that will prevent the formation of a Likud government?'" he told Israel Radio.
Hanegbi said the Likud Beytenu negotiating team is focusing on the bigger factions, now that Livni's six-seats party joined the coalition.
"We turned to the bigger parties first," he said. "We met with [Labor chairwoman] Shelly Yacimovich and [Yesh Atid chairman] Yair Lapid twice, this is where the main effort lies."
"And because we don't want a narrow government, we have to bring in smaller parties too, like Bayit Yehudi and Shas," he added.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.