Bennett with Yamina members
Bennett with Yamina membersSpokesperson

Outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Yamina activists tonight (Monday) and told them he intends to continue as the alternate prime minister in Lapid's government.

"I want to say a big thank you, first and foremost, to the members of the faction who in a very difficult moment for the State of Israel a year ago, entered the government with a deep understanding that we must take care of our country. We have all sacrificed for the sake of Israel. We have collected our fare share of curses, shouts and lies from the start. But we have a backbone, and I'm most proud of the fact that we stuck together," began Bennett.

He added, "When we decided to establish settlements in the Golan Heights, and had the decision supported by ministers from Meretz to Yamina, it was a better alternative than going the road alone. True, it is wasn't easy, there are certain things each side had to agree to live with. Each side believes in its positions, but it is good to have a healthy debate. We stood firm on our values. For example, we made the decision to hold the Flag March [despite Hamas threats] as planned and more. When we are united, it is impossible to break us."

Bennett told those in attendance: "The [Netanyahu]-Ben Gvir-Smotrich government is not good for Israel, it must not be allowed to formalize, and I say this as a right-winger. The opposite is not good either, however."

"For a large part of the people in this country [my government] was a difficult reality and I have no way of arguing with that perception. No one should fall into despair because of an elected government - no matter which side it's on," he continued. "We should pursue a policy of broad unity. Yes, even with the extreme parts of the equation. Ideological debates should be put aside with the focus on getting things done. Unity is good for everyone. Now, [more than ever], is the time for it," he noted.

"Right now, we need to deal with the country, the economy, its security, and many more years of peace with Gaza. We must continue to take care of the [Iranian threat], so that it cannot harm us through its proxies," concluded the prime minister.

The meeting was attended by Ministers Ayelet Shaked and Matan Kahana, Deputy Minister Abir Kara, MK Shirley Pinto, former MK Yomtov Kalfon and party CEO Stella Weinstein.

Meanwhile, Bennett met Kahana privately at the Knesset today.

Sources in Yamina claimed that if Bennett decides against running in the upcoming elections and allows Ayelet Shaked to run on the party list, Minister Matan Kahana will not continue with Yamina, and MK Abir Kara will likely end his tenure there as well.