Negotiation teams from the Likud and Yamina parties met secretly yesterday (Sunday), prior to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with Naftali Bennett.
According to an official who is privy to the details of the conversations between Netanyahu and Bennett, the two leaders have been in regular contact over the past few days, after President Reuven Rivlin tasked Netanyahu with forming a governing coalition.
Kan reported Monday night that Bennett has warned the Likud against trying to form the Knesset’s powerful Arrangements Committee without first coordinating the move with Yamina.
According to the report, Bennett told Likud officials that if the formation of the Arrangements Committee is brought to a vote without approval from Yamina, the party will bolt talks with the Likud and will join with the anti-Netanyahu bloc.
Coalition whip MK Miki Zohar (Likud) had planned to bring the committee’s formation to a vote Monday, but caved at the last minute, pulling the vote due to Yamina’s opposition.
Earlier on Monday, Bennett and Netanyahu met in Jerusalem, formally kicking off coalition talks.
“One week ago, the President asked [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu to form a government," Bennett said at a party gathering prior to the meeting with Netanyahu. "The Likud can count Yamina in when it comes to the formation of a right-wing government."
Speaking to the Israeli press, Bennett said: "At our meetings, I told Mr. Netanyahu, and I will tell you as well, that the Likud can count Yamina's MKs as part of a right-wing government."
He added: "We will do everything possible to prevent fifth elections, and there are a lot of creative ideas."
"I could have sat in the Prime Minister's seat, had I wanted to, but my goal is to prevent fifth elections," he emphasized. "The circus of fifth elections signals to our enemies that we are breaking apart."
"There are parties which have already hired advisers and are preparing for fifth elections. I ask all party heads to act responsibly. We will fight anyone who wants fifth elections."
Earlier on Monday, Bennett was accused of attempting to prevent the formation of a right-wing government.
"Not only is Bennett not helping to form a government, he is trying to prevent the formation of a right-wing government," sources on the Right told Israel Hayom, adding that were Bennett to proclaim that there will be fifth elections if a right-wing government is not formed, the pressure would move to other parties.