Ze'ev Elkin: 'We'll form a government together with Yamina'

'If Yamina had agreed to replace PM Netanyahu, we might have been able to run together in these elections,' New Hope's Ze'ev Elkin says.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Ze'ev Elkin
Ze'ev Elkin
Arutz Sheva

Senior "New Hope" official Ze'ev Elkin on Monday spoke at a conference about his party's relationship with the MK Naftali Bennett's Yamina party.

"We are rivals, and they sometimes attack us, but we have made a strategic decision not to continue the quarreling," he said at the conference, which was hosted jointly by Makor Rishon and Regavim. "We think that it does not get us anywhere. Our purpose is to replace [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu, and to build a new government here."

"By the way, if [MKs] Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) would have agreed to this goal, and it could be that we could have run together in these elections."

Regarding whether he regrets the fact that his party and Yamina are not running jointly, he said: "They were not ready to accept the basic principle that we were going to replace Netanyahu. As long as they do not rule out the option of sitting under him, then we cannot sit with them. But on principle I think that there is great potential for cooperation here."

"I believe that the moment it turns out that Netanyahu does not have 61 [Knesset seats] - and write down what I am telling you now - he will not have 61, he also sees this. You see how annoyed he is, how he is grumbling, how he is going out to the media, which he usually does only in the last week. He sees he's getting farther away from 61. The moment it becomes clear that he doesn't have 61 at the end of the day we will form the government, and we will do it in close cooperation with Naftali Bennett and Yamina. I believe that we will be able to cooperate, to work together, and to form a government."

When asked if he regrets leaving the Likud party, Elkin responded: "Absolutely not. If I was looking for personal benefit, I could have remained and sat with my legs crossed. Netanyahu would have made the campaign for me, I could have been elected as part of the Likud even 20 years from now. I left because I reached the conclusion that we can't continue this madness anymore, where everything is dependent on the personal interests of one man. When he wants, we go to elections, when he wants, everything turns upside down. It's all a question of how it serves him. I find it very sad - this is a person who I really appreciate - but this isn't the same Netanyahu that I knew."

Regarding his party's red lines for forming a government, he answered: "It's clear that the Joint Arab List is a party with which we will not form a coalition. I don't think Meretz will want to sit with us, because we speak clearly about ourselves as a center-right party which opposes a Palestinian state. From Netanyahu you won't hear that; from Gideon Sa'ar, you hear it in every interview. Therefore, it doesn't seem to me that Meretz will embrace us. Parties which previously sat in Netanyahu's governments are [Yesh Atid, chaired by MK] Yair Lapid and the Labor party, might be partners, because we need to form a wide coalition. Obviously that's without its (Labor's - ed.) number seven, who anyways won't be elected. I am hearing that [Religious Zionism Chairman MK] Bezalel Smotrich is also not ruling out the option of joining a coalition led by us."

About normalizing settlements in Judea and Samaria, saying, "The last thing that I managed to do in the last government meeting I attended before I quit was to prevent the normalization of Bedouin settlements."

"I led a rebellion in the government, and I said that it is inconceivable that on one hand, [Blue and White Chairman Defense Minister Benny] Gantz is holding up the normalization of settlements, and on the other hand, we are helping [MK] Amir Peretz (Labor) normalize Bedouin settlements. At that same meeting, Netanyahu said that he is promising that within a few days, he will normalize the young settlements, and like all Netanyahu's other promises, we know that it didn't happen."