Bennett (l) and Lapid (r)
Bennett (l) and Lapid (r) צילום: אלעד גוטמן, Sraya Diamant/Flash90

Yesh Atid chief and Opposition Leader Yair Lapid has acquiesced to a key demand made by the Yamina party, agreeing that Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett will serve first as prime minister if a rotational, power-sharing deal can be made to establish a new government.

Bennett met with Lapid Saturday night, following a meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Friday afternoon.

According to a report by Channel 13 Sunday evening, significant progress has been made since the meeting between Lapid and Bennett Saturday night, with the Opposition Leader agreeing to Bennett’s demand that he serve first as prime minister in a rotational power-sharing arrangement.

After serving as prime minister for the first half of the government’s term, Bennett would rotate out, with Lapid rotating in to complete the term.

In exchange for this concession, according to the report, Lapid has demanded that Bennett commit to not joining a Netanyahu-led government, and to back a reduction in the number of ministries in the next government, with no more than 18 ministers to be appointed. Lapid’s demand includes a call for Bennett to publicly vow that he will only join a government without Prime Minister Netanyahu at the helm.

Bennett has yet to make a final decision on how to respond to Lapid’s offer, the report said.

Senior Likud officials expressed concern Sunday evening that the change in Lapid’s position could lead to the formation of an alternative government, and undermine Netanyahu’s chances of remaining in office. Some worried that the Likud is on the verge of losing the government, citing Religious Zionist Party chief Bezalel Smotrich’s staunch opposition to the formation of a minority government relying on the United Arab List (Ra’am) from outside of the coalition.

Earlier reports on Sunday, indicated that Bennett was leaning towards supporting a government led by Netanyahu, and that he has been trying to convince New Hope chief Gideon Sa’ar – a long-time Netanyahu rival – to back the formation of a rightist government under Netanyahu.