Report: Jewish Home Preparing for New Elections
Naftali Bennett's Jewish Home Party has taken steps to revive its election campaign committee – on the chance that Binyamin Netanyahu will not be able to form a government, and new elections will be called. A report in Ma'ariv Thursday said that the campaign committee held a first meeting to discuss the party's options and chances in a new election, and what, if any, changes to make to strategy to increase the party's Knesset presence.
Sources in the party stressed Wednesday that Jewish Home could not join Netanyahu's government with Tzippy Livni the chief government negotiator with the Palestinian Authority. In addition, the sources said, Bennett did not intend to turn his back on Yair Lapid. “Our agreement with Lapid's Yesh Atid party is solid,” the sources said. “We would rather go to new elections than enter the government without him. Our partnership is a true and brave one.”
The chances of Yesh Atid entering the government are considered small as well, as the party has said that it is unwilling to compromise on its demands that all Hareidim youths – except for a few hundred – be drafted into the IDF. Hareidi parties are unwilling to join the government unless Netanyahu guarantees that many more students will be exempted from the IDF to study. With Yesh Atid, Jewish Home, and Labor all declaring that they will not join Netanyahu's government based on its policies, experts say that it is not at all clear that Netanyahu will be able to form a government.
Sources in the Likud, meanwhile, said that they weren't concerned about Jewish Home's thoughts on Livni as chief government negotiator. Army Radio on Thursday said that Likud officials believe that Jewish Home would eventually join the government, with Livni and without Lapid. According to the Likud sources, Bennett is “protesting too much, and these protests signal that he is breaking down.
“If Netanyahu is forced to call new elections because Bennett refused to join the government, his voters will be very angry that 12 Knesset seats were wasted,” the sources said. “And if Netanyahu is able to establish a left-center government with Livni, Labor, and Kadima, Bennett's voters will be just as angry,” Army radio quoted the sources as saying.