Natan Eshel
Natan EshelPhoto by Hadas Parush/Flash90

Natan Eshel, a confidant and former chief of staff for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, is reportedly working to split up the Yamina party, with the aim of bringing some of the party’s factions into the planned unity government.

According to a report by Channel 13 Sunday, Eshel is leading efforts to break apart the Yamina party – an alliance of three small right-wing factions – leaving part of Yamina out of the unity government set to be formed this week.

Eshel is reportedly trying to lure the Jewish Home and National Union factions away from Yamina, with the intention of bringing those two factions’ combined three Knesset Members – Education Minister Rafi Peretz (Jewish Home), Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich (National Union), and Ofir Sofer (National Union) into the new unity government, while leaving the New Right faction of Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked in the opposition.

The author of the report, Akiva Novick, noted the chances of the effort succeeding are slim, citing Smotrich’s close coordination with the New Right faction.

Earlier on Sunday, the Yamina party announced that it would not be joining the unity government led by Netanyahu and Blue and White party chairman Benny Gantz, calling the new coalition “left-wing”.

"In light of the composition of the government and its policy that appears to be a left-wing government headed by Netanyahu, and in light of the Prime Minister's blatant disrespect for Yamina's voting public, the Yamina party has decided to serve the public in the opposition in the upcoming term and fight for the national camp from there," the statement said.