Bennett's perilous paths to the premiership - analysis

Yamina leader Naftali Bennett has multiple possible paths to the premiership, all of which could easily fail.

Naftali Bennet  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Naftali Bennet
Ahead of last week’s election, Yamina leader Naftali Bennett told The Jerusalem Post that after the votes were counted, he intended to turn off his phone and spend time with his children while the politicians and the press were looking for him.
Noting that when Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman was a political kingmaker, he would go to eastern Europe without a cell phone, Bennett said he had promised his son David, who is in third grade, that he would stay in Israel and take him to the beach.
That political promise was easy to keep for Bennett, who posted a selfie with David in the Jordan Valley on social media. Besides the beach, Bennett took his kids to climb the Masada fortress.
But Bennett must soon go back to work and devote his attention to fulfilling his other campaign promises, which will be a more challenging uphill climb.
His main promise during the campaign was to become prime minister, though he never explained how he would do it. Winning only seven seats made that task even harder.
Bennett has multiple possible paths to the premiership, all of which could easily fail. He will decide which path to take over the weekend after meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Yair Lapid.
Sources close to Bennett said that currently, all the options were open, which is true, because he has not started his decision-making yet. The following are his options in no particular order of preference.
Bennett could demand a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office from Netanyahu, coerce an endorsement from him to be his heir apparent and merge Yamina into Likud. This is said to be the preferred option of his number two in Yamina, Ayelet Shaked.
He could demand a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office with Lapid as part of a coalition of the “change camp.” This is the preferred option of his rival turned ally, Gideon Sa’ar, who has told Lapid he would not join him without Bennett.
Bennett also could recommend himself to President Reuven Rivlin to form the government, knowing that Rivlin will be asking party leaders for not only their first choice to build a coalition but also for their second. The heads of Blue and White, Labor and Meretz have not ruled out joining a Bennett-led government and intend to tell that to the president.
Another option is to wait for Netanyahu to receive the first mandate from Rivlin and hope he fails. If Rivlin conducts another round of consultations after that, he will likely find more parties willing to join a government led by Bennett than by Lapid once Netanyahu is out of the picture.
Bennett’s hope in such a scenario would be to persuade Rivlin that because no non-Arab parties are boycotting him, he can draft a majority that Netanyahu and Lapid cannot. That majority would be much easier to draft if he receives the mandate second, not first.
There is also the option of waiting for both Netanyahu and Lapid to fail and then receiving a mandate from the Knesset. This could be the hardest of all the choices, because by law, 61 MKs would be required, while in the first two mandates, a minority government would be possible.
All of those options are fraught with danger, but no matter what happens, he will be better off than the Jews on Masada.
As Bennett likely taught his kids, they did not make it out alive.