'Smotrich is torpedoing Netanyahu-Bennett rapprochement'

Discord on the Right? Netanyahu outraged after Religious Zionist Party chief blasts Bennett ahead of Bennett's meeting with PM.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

סמוטריץ' נתניהו ובנט
סמוטריץ' נתניהו ובנט
ערוץ 7 והדס פרוש, פלאש 90

Religious Zionist Party chief Bezalel Smotrich is working to undermine negotiations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett, Likud officials claim according to a report by Yediot Aharonot Friday morning.

Netanyahu met with Bennett and Smotrich Thursday evening in a bid to win support for a new Likud-led government, despite Smotrich’s opposition to the formation of a government relying on the United Arab List (Ra’am).

But according to several Likud officials cited in the Yediot Aharonot report, Smotrich has tried to torpedo efforts to bring Yamina into a new coalition by creating tensions between Bennett and Netanyahu. The Likud officials claimed Smotrich is hoping to prevent Netanyahu from consolidating right-wing support for a new coalition, thus alleviating pressure on Smotrich to accept the creation of a government which relies on the backing of the United Arab List.

The officials pointed to Smotrich’s press release Thursday night accusing Bennett of blocking the formation of a right-wing government. The statement was released following Smotrich’s meeting with Netanyahu, and shortly before Bennett’s meeting with the Prime Minister.

“The Prime Minister and Smotrich agreed that every effort must be made to try to convince Bennett not to dismantle the nationalist bloc and not to join a leftist government, and thus bring more partners for a right-wing government,” the statement released by Smotrich’s office read.

Netanyahu reportedly was outraged by the timing of the press release, which was not coordinated with his office. The Prime Minister’s Office responded to Smotrich’s statement with a press release of its own.

“The press release from Bezalel Smotrich doesn’t fit with the reality. This is the time to work together, not to release statements which contribute nothing to the joint effort we are undertaking.”