MK Bezalel Smotrich, the head of the Religious Zionism party, still has hopes that elections can be averted and an alternative government be formed from among the members of the current Knesset.
In an interview on Radio 103FM, Smotrich said that he had "not despaired of the possibility of fulfilling the will of the majority of the people and establishing a nationalist government within the current Knesset."
Smotrich noted that, "On a personal level, elections are actually the best option for me, as we will gain a significant number of seats [as repeated polls have indicated]. However, I am absolutely not willing to put my own interests before the national interest. I have a responsibility to serve the State of Israel."
Smotrich also commented on a statement made in the last few days by Likud MK Dudi Amsalem, who indicated that he would be prepared to sit in a coalition together with the Ra'am party headed by MK Mansour Abbas, currently in the failed coalition. Amsalem's words were hotly criticized by his party's leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, who said Amsalem's words represented his own viewpoint alone, and that the Likud under his leadership would "never sit with supporters of terrorism."
"We have already clarified in the clearest possible way that we will not sit in the same coalition as those who support terrorism or people who are anti-Zionist," said Smotrich. "Ra'am has shown its true colors, thank G-d, and now I think that not only those on the Right realize this. More and more people are finally figuring out that this is an Islamist, extremist, nationalist party that negates the very idea of a Jewish State. We have a responsibility to concern ourselves with the interests of both Jewish and Arab citizens, and that is what we will do, as we have indeed done in the past," he added.
Smotrich was then asked what he thought about the series of interviews Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has been granting over the past week, to which he answered that he is "not wasting his time on that guy."
Bennett is "no longer relevant," Smotrich clarified. "He's part of history. Just to remind us all, let's go back just over a year, to May 31, 2021. I wrote back then that I know Bennett extremely well and that he is undergoing a transformative process, moving firmly into the left-wing camp. After the interview he gave yesterday, it's obvious to everyone that I was right - with respect to his ideology, his world-view, his values.
"He no longer sees himself as part of the camp he used to belong to," Smotrich added. "He doesn't identify with the right-wing camp anymore. Nitzan Horowitz has outlawed conversion therapy, but Bennett's done it to himself and gone all the way."