Lapid-Bennett Government:
'Unity government negotiations are making progress'

Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett meet as work continues to form unity government. Likud working to undermine formation of coalition.

Hezki Baruch , | updated: 10:06 AM

צילום: Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90

Yamina chairman and former Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, Opposition Leader Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), and New Hope chief Gideon Sa'ar met Friday morning as unity government negotiations continue.

Representatives from Yamina and Yesh Atid also met for negotiations Friday morning.

Friday morning's meeting comes after Bennett and Lapid met Thursday night for coalition talks.

Yesh Atid released a statement Friday, saying that the “talks are making progress in a cordial atmosphere”.

According to reports Thursday evening, the two sides have reached preliminary agreements ahead of the formation of a unity government.

According to one report, the first agreement is on the issue of the Finance Committee. In order to balance between the designated Finance Minister, Avigdor Liberman, while seeking to appease the haredim, Bennett and Lapid agreed that the committee would be headed by a representative from the right-wing bloc, or at least a right-leaning Knesset member.

In addition, the forthcoming agreement between Bennett and Lapid will stipulate that even if the state budget is not passed, the Knesset will not be dispersed. In order to do so, they will have to pass amendments to the Basic Law of Government, and this will be done only after the coalition is sworn in.

Thursday night, Joint Arab List chief MK Ayman Odeh explained why the Joint List recommended that the mandate to form a government be given to Yair Lapid, despite his intention to form a government headed by Naftali Bennett.

Speaking to the Arabic language Nasradio, Odeh said, "Even though Bennett is more right-wing than Netanyahu, Netanyahu is stronger and has the ability to implement and carry out his right-wing plans."

Earlier on Thursday, Lapid convened a press conference, for the first time since receiving the mandate to form a government from the President, and described his relationship with Naftali Bennett.

"What I proposed before receiving the mandate also applies after receiving the mandate. My word is ironclad and this is the only proposal currently on the table. Naftali and I were together in the opposition and coalition. I have never cheated him and he has not cheated me."

"From my first days in politics, this has been my dream, this has been my task: Finding the common good. Moving Israeli society from controversy towards agreement. Today we are taking another step in this direction, and we are doing it together."

Lapid stressed, "We all understand that this will not be a government in which all our dreams come true, but the main guideline is the ability to work together. Most Israelis agree on 80 percent of things - it's time for their politicians to do the same."