Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett Flash 90

New Right chairman and former Education Minister Naftali Bennett gave a special interview to "Meet the Israeli Press" - ten days before the closing of the lists for the 22nd Knesset.

Bennett started out by explaining why, in his opinion, the New Right, the new party he founded together with Ayelet Shaked in the previous elections, failed to pass the threshold. "I think that we didn't tell the story of why we founded this party," he said. "We should have told the public why there is a vital need for The New Right, a liberal right with Jewish identity - but without coercion."

Bennett went on to explain that, contrary to certain voices on the right, a discourse of unity is necessary. "We are not people who compromise, but with everything regarding religion and state, and in general, the relationship between people here in Israel - the right unifies" he clarified. In response to the question of whether there is still room for such a right in today's politics, he answered: "Not only is there room but it's critical and essential that there be a liberal right to unite us, a right which is sympathetic to Judaism but opposes coercion and mainly opposes a discourse of hatred."

"I prefer if we can establish a liberal bloc with one leader and another leader for another party that is the Torani Religous Zionist bloc - which is the United Right. That seems to me to be more logical at the moment but we need to see, we have another ten days."

According to Bennett, there is still a chance that the New Right will merge with other parties - even with Ayelet Shaked. "I believe unequivocally in the New Right, but in the same breath, I said from the beginning that there will be mergers before the lists are submitted. The New Right is forging ahead with or without Ayelet Shaked. The movement is greater than one person. It's true that I would be very happy to have Ayelet join, but I'm not waiting."

Bennett said he would agree to give up first place if Shaked joined him. "I told Ayelet that if she decides to join, I will put my ego aside and do what is right." In addition, Bennett hasn't ruled out the possibility of merging with Otzma and Itamar Ben-Gvir. "I'm not committing to any names at the moment but no one on the right has been ruled out."

Bennett was also asked if he would recommend Israeli Prime MInister Binyamin Netanyahu continue as prime minister. "I will recommend a right-wing candidate with the greatest chance of forming a government," he said. "There won't be a third round of elections by me. This simply won't happen. If a proposal arises to dissolve the Knesset, I'll vote against it. But I certainly haven't ruled out Netanyahu. He is one of the candidates and he certainly has a chance [of becoming prime minister]."

Bennett also stressed that there are other candidates worthy of being prime minister apart from Netanyahu. "I won't start counting. But there are five, six, seven people in politics who can certainly do it. The State of Israel existed before Netanyahu and will exist after him. I think he did great things as prime minister but there's a definitely a substitute for every person."

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