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Netanyahu, Bennett to Meet Monday – after 5 Years

Bayit Yehudi head says media has been unfair in its treatment of Sarah Netanyahu.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 2/10/2013, 7:29 PM

MK Bennett in the Knesset plenum.
MK Bennett in the Knesset plenum.
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Bayit Yehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett will meet Monday at noontime in the government compound at Tel Aviv's Kirya district. This is the first time the two will sit together and talk since Bennett quit as Netanyahu's chief of staff five years ago.

Senior sources within Likud said Sunday that Netanyahu would like to have a wide coalition that includes the Bayit Yehudi, despite the rocky relations between the two men, which are said to stem from a serious rift that formed between Bennett and Netanyahu's wife Sarah, when Bennett was chief of staff.

The two men, both graduates of the IDF's most elite infantry unit, the Sayeret Matkal commando, have spoken only twice in the last five years – both times on the phone – once after Bennett was elected to head the Bayit Yehudi, and once after the general election.

Netanyahu has personally met with all of the other potential coalition partners, and even with opposition party leaders, before meeting Bennett. He initially preferred to send former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman to speak with Bennett on his behalf.

Possibly trying to break the ice before the meeting, Bennett said Sunday that Sarah Netanyahu has been treated unfairly in the press. "She is a good woman who loves her husband," he said. Most recently, Sarah Netanyahu has been the target of ridicule since she wore an unflattering dress to the Knesset's swearing-in ceremony.

Bennett and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid have reportedly formed a tactical pact that is forcing Netanyahu to try harder in his attempts to woo each of them into his coalition.