Bennett and Lapid play down comments attributed to PM

Prime Minister and Alternate Prime Minister play down comments attributed to Bennett in which he said the rotation agreement with Lapid won't be implemented.

Elad Benari ,

Bennett and Lapid
Bennett and Lapid
Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday both played down comments attributed to Bennett and published on Channel 12 News, claiming he said in closed talks with his associates recently that he believes Lapid will not replace him in the position and the government will not last until the date when the rotation between them is supposed to take place.

The Prime Minister's Office said in response, "As he said from the first moment - Prime Minister Bennett will abide by the rotation agreement in full. The partnership with the Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, is based on mutual trust and fairness. Ahead of the approval of the budget, which ensures the stability of the government, various quotes from different periods are published, as expected, which were said only as an estimate. The budget will pass and the partnership will continue."

Bennett also personally tweeted in response to the report, writing, “Yair Lapid is an excellent Foreign Minister, an honest partner and a friend. The recent publications do not reflect my position, and certainly not my commitment to the agreement with him. We shook hands.”

“Since the formation of the government, Yair has been making great efforts to maintain its stability - in a statesmanlike fashion, and responsibly.”

“We will ignore the background noise. The budget will pass, and the government will continue to move Israel forward,” said Bennett.

Lapid also took to Twitter to respond to the report and wrote, “Sorry to disappoint our opponents, I spoke tonight with Naftali Bennett about all the transparent attempts to cause a rift between us just before the budget. It’s not going to happen. Both the Prime Minister and I have one goal: To pass a budget and strengthen the government. I will not be distracted by leaks and recordings that are only intended to cause harm.”

“We are not dealing with nonsense and they will not be able to spoil the good atmosphere in the government. We will continue to work well together for the benefit of the State of Israel,” added Lapid.

Thursday’s report comes one day after Channel 12 News published comments made by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked in which she also expressed skepticism about the possibility that Lapid will be appointed Prime Minister as part of the rotation deal.

"Lapid is a superficial person - every week he carries out an attack and Naftali rescues [him], and no one knows [about it]," Shaked was heard saying in the recordings.

Shaked claimed that Lapid was carrying out “diplomatic attacks”, as she put it. "He did it about three times - against the Jordanians, against the Americans, and against ... and Naftali rescued. Unequivocally."

Regarding the rotation of Bennett and Lapid in the post of Prime Minister, the Interior Minister is not particularly optimistic. "I have no answer to that. I do not know what will happen. We will wait another two years and see. It depends on whether there is a crisis or not. We will see."