Bennett: Netanyahu offered me alternate PM, Defense Ministry

Bennett said he would set aside issues that are important to him, including Israeli sovereignty, in order to form a government.

Naftali Bennett (photo credit: OURI KAHN)
Naftali Bennett
(photo credit: OURI KAHN)
Yamina head Naftali Bennett  revealed on Friday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called him two weeks ago and suggested he join the government, but that Bennett refused, saying Netanyahu had failed and should be replaced.
Bennett made the revelation in an interview on "Ofira and Berkowitz" on N12. He claimed, "Netanyahu made me an offer to join the government as defense minister. I could have received the defense portfolio, been the alternate prime minister and had three more portfolios."
When asked if he would join a Netanyahu government after elections in return for a position as a minister, Bennett said that "just like two weeks ago, when Bibi [offered a position as a minister], I would tell him, 'Prime Minister Netanyahu, you have failed and should be replaced. Thank you for all you have done for the people of Israel. You need to step down with dignity to let ... the next prime minister rescue Israel because you can no longer unite the people.'"
When asked if he would go with Netanyahu, Bennett said, "It depends on the public. If I don't have mandates, what do I do?"
When asked what he would do if he had 20 mandates, Bennett said that such a situation would make him the next prime minister "because, unlike all other parties, I am the only one who has not blacklisted and is not blacklisted by anyone."
Bennett added that he is willing to put significant issues aside. "I will form a government and put politics aside, including things that are important to me like sovereignty," he said. When asked if Bezalel Smotrich would allow him to make such a move, Bennett said, "I don't care, it will happen. I am the leader of the party, no one else."
Bennett slammed Netanyahu on Wednesday night and, for the first time in his political career, announced that he is running to become Israel's next prime minister.
In a long speech at the Knesset, Bennett attacked the prime minister's management of the crisis caused by the novel coronavirus and said that while Netanyahu deserves Israel's thanks for his past actions, his time has come to step down. 
"At the moment of truth, when we needed him most, he simply wasn't there," Bennett said of Netanyahu. "We need to thank for his years of service, but we need to move on."
In announcing his candidacy, Bennett said "The time has come for change, Israel needs new leadership. Therefore, I am running for prime minister to finally bring that change, so Israel will have leadership that sees its citizens and not itself." 
The Likud responded saying "Prime Minister Netanyahu is leading the coronavirus cabinet in the fastest vaccination campaign in the world that will lead to Israel being the first in the world to leave the coronavirus [pandemic]. All of Bennett's suggestions failed in the world including in Europe that has collapsed into lockdowns with uncountably many more dead than in Israel."
Gideon Sa'ar responded saying "New Hope lead by Gideon Sa'ar will continue to present its positions and characteristics for the future of Israel and has no interest in being dragged into a smear campaign."