Netanyahu to Bennett:
'You can be Prime Minister first'

'I told Bennett that I'm prepared to accept his request to serve as premier first in rotational deal,' says Netanyahu.

Hezki Baruch ,

בנט ונתניהו
בנט ונתניהו
צילום: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday afternoon that he has accepted Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett’s demand to serve as prime minister first in a rotational power-sharing agreement.

Writing in a Facebook post Monday afternoon, Netanyahu urged right-wing leaders to help him form a new government.

“During these difficult days we must not give in to baseless hate,” wrote Netanyahu. “We cannot have personal feuds or boycotts within the Right prevent us from forming a government.”

“We must not return to the disaster of Oslo and establish a left-wing government with a right-wing fig leaf as cover. A government like this will be weak, divided, and unable to function.”

“It won’t be able to even try to stop Iran from restoring the nuclear deal.”

“A government like this – with Lapid, [Meretz chief] Nitzan Horowitz, Yair Golan, [Labor chief] Meirav Michaeli, Ibtisam Mara'ana, and [Joint Arab List chief] Ayman Odeh won’t prevent settlements from being uprooted. Just the opposite! Lapid himself backs uprooting 80,000 settlers!”

Netanyahu appeared to direct his comments at New Hope chairman Gideon Sa’ar, writing: “Most of the country is against a government like this, even if it has a fig leaf of right-wing support. Sixty-five seats [worth of voters] voted for a right-wing government. The vast majority of them voted for me as prime minister, either directly by voting Likud, or indirectly via parties which vowed beforehand to sit in my coalition.”

The prime minister also made an appeal to Bennett, calling on the Yamina chief to cut ties with the opposition bloc.

“In order for a [right-wing] government to be formed, Naftali Bennett must align himself with the right-wing bloc, and not join with the left-wing bloc.”

“Bennett raised during negotiations his demand to serve as prime minister first, for one year, under a rotational arrangement. But at the same time, he conducted negotiations with Lapid with a similar demand – an even greater one.”

“I told Naftali Bennett that I am prepared to agree to his request for a rotational arrangement in which he serves as prime minister first for one year. Yamina’s members will be incorporated into the government and the Knesset with important positions. And if we fail to form a government, which I don’t think will happen, then we’ll run together on a joint list for the Knesset, which each party maintaining its identity and relative strength.”

Netanyahu's comments come a day and a half before his mandate for form a government expires, at which point President Reuven Rivlin is expected either to send the mandate to the Knesset, giving the legislature 21 days to vote in a new premier or face early elections - or task another candidate with forming a coalition government.