Bayit Yehudi staying together - for now

Liberman becomes fourth candidate for PM

Dani Dayan and Naftali Bennett. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Dani Dayan and Naftali Bennett.
A two-hour meeting between Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett and National Union head Uri Ariel Sunday night ended without an agreement but without a split in the party, at least not yet.
The meeting began with speculation that the two parties could end up running separately in the March 17 election, because Bennett and Ariel disagreed over the amount of reserved slots for National Union candidates on the Bayit Yehudi list.
Former Shas chairman Eli Yishai is said to be interested in running together with the National Union, perhaps under the name Yachad (Together).
“The meeting was professional and they will meet again soon,” representatives for Bennett and Ariel said after the meeting.
Ariel’s associates said afterward that “At this point, it has not blown up yet.”
In another meeting between the two leaders two weeks ago, Bennett shouted at Ariel that because of him, Bayit Yehudi may not end up receiving enough mandates to demand the Defense portfolio.
Bennett, unlike other party leaders, has not called himself a candidate for prime minister.
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman became the latest to hint that he considers himself a prime ministerial candidate Sunday when he told the Walla News website that “the national camp has more than one candidate for prime minister.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Labor leader Isaac Herzog and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid have also called themselves candidates for prime minister.
Earlier Sunday, Liberman told reporters outside the cabinet meeting that he respected Netanyahu even though there have been ups and downs in their relationship. He complained about attacks on him from the Likud after he said he was not ruling out joining a government led by Labor leader Isaac Herzog.
“The hysterical response of Likud was not fit for them,” he said. “It was more of a fit for a hysterical party like Bayit Yehudi.”
Liberman said he considered himself a proud member of the national camp, especially as a resident of Nokdim in the West Bank. “I don’t need a kashrut certificate from the Likud or anyone else,” he said.
MK Yoni Chetboun announced late Sunday that he will not remain in the Bayit Yehudi party for the next Knesset. He said the party did not do enough to help the weakest sectors of the population.
Chetboun has been rumored to be pushing for an alliance between Ariel and Yishai.