New Hope leader Gideon Sa'ar called upon Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid to enable Yamina head Naftali Bennett to receive the mandate from President Reuven Rivlin to form the next government in a post on Twitter Tuesday night.
Sa'ar wrote to Lapid that his attempt over the past week to win the most recommendations to Rivlin would not lead to the formation of a government. Rivlin will give the mandate to build the next coalition on April 7.
"The window of opportunity is limited in time," Sa'ar wrote. "Yair Lapid, I conceded on my ego. Now it is your turn."
Lapid appeared to hint that he was willing to rotate as prime minister with Bennett when he responded to Sa'ar that he was ready for “painful concessions,” but only after he received the mandate from Rivlin to form the government. He said the mission of every party in the change camp must be to prevent Rivlin from giving the mandate to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and to that end, they all must recommend Yesh Atid, the largest party in the bloc.
“I am ready to consider every possibility in order to form a government of change and remove Netanyahu from [the Prime Minister’s Residence on] Balfour [Street],” Lapid wrote. “As I said during the election, the state is more important than my personal ambitions and those of everyone else.”
Sa'ar then responded that Lapid had it backwards.
"The stage for concessions is now," Sa'ar wrote. "Afterward could end up being too late."
Bennett will make a fateful decision over the weekend regarding the next government, following meetings with Netanyahu and Lapid, sources close to Bennett said on Tuesday.
His choices include joining a government led by either of them, insisting on a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office with one of them or telling Rivlin in Monday’s presidential consultations that he recommends himself for the premiership alone.
“All the options are open, including all of the ways for him to become prime minister,” a source close to Bennett said.
The value of Yamina’s seven MKs increased after reports indicated that United Arab List (Ra’am) chairman Mansour Abbas has already decided to back Netanyahu and support his government from outside the coalition. Abbas will deliver an address in Hebrew explaining the move on Thursday.
In the speech, Abbas is expected to talk about the importance of the Arab sector cooperating with the Israeli Right to gain legitimacy among the entire population. Netanyahu is expected to make a similar statement.
“We intend to support a right-wing government led by Netanyahu from outside, as long as [Religious Zionist Party MK-elect Itamar] Ben-Gvir is not a minister, but it could change if we get a better offer,” a source in Ra’am told KAN News.
Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin (Likud) is set to meet with Abbas on Netanyahu’s behalf on Wednesday or Thursday. Abbas’s support is key to building the next coalition, because his four seats could grant a majority either to Netanyahu or one of his political opponents.
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz met with Abbas on Tuesday and urged him to support a representative of the “change camp” to form the next government.
“The only way to avoid [Netanyahu remaining in power] is forming an honest government without Netanyahu and appointing a Knesset speaker agreed upon by the entire change camp,” Gantz wrote on Facebook. “All this must be done quickly, because while we are arguing, Bibi is working.”
Gantz warned Abbas and Bennett that Netanyahu is “using them.” He said that it could be possible for Netanyahu to form a government with Bennett and Abbas but they would quickly “become his hostages.”
The Gantz-Abbas meeting came following reports that the Blue and White leader had sent an Arab candidate from his party, Ilhan Hazen, to meet with Abbas and urge him to not endorse Lapid for prime minister. Blue and White denied the reports.
Abbas also met on Tuesday with Labor leader Merav Michaeli. A Labor spokeswoman said they discussed “coalition options and potential cooperation.”
The heads of the Joint List will meet on Thursday with Lapid, who will ask them to recommend to Rivlin that he form the next government.•