Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel, who this week joined forces with Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked to form the Zionist Spirit Party, on Friday blasted opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and MK Itamar Ben Gvir of the Otzma Yehudit Party.
"I was offered dozens of times to be in the Likud. If I wanted to, I would have been in the Likud. I see Netanyahu as a problem and not a solution, but I also look at the problem of us having been in five election campaigns in three and a half years," Hendel told Channel 12 News in an interview.
Asked who he would prefer to see in the role of Prime Minister, he replied, "I'm not dealing with that at the moment, [but] if it were up to me - Netanyahu would be sitting in retirement in Hawaii drinking a shake right now. I will not recommend anyone and I am not thinking about recommendations and what I am dealing with is how I force both sides to stop this madness. Any narrow government that relies on extremists is unstable, and will cause us to see more elections and more elections."
On the question of whether he would be willing to join a government led by Netanyahu if Netanyahu has 59 seats for a government and the Zionist Party has four, Hendel replied, "I am unequivocally against a narrow government. I also say that I am against elections and a narrow government means elections. The more seats we have, the more we can impose a unity government. I have always said that this is an ideal and not a necessity of reality. It is not good for the right to be alone."
He stressed that "I have never ruled out the Arabs, only the Joint List Party. I am proud that I disqualified the Joint List because I think it cannot be a legitimate partner in the government, and now other parties are also saying this. Any Arab leader who recognizes Israel as a Jewish and democratic state will be a legitimate partner."
On Ben Gvir, Hendel said, “In my opinion, to rely on him, when he does not express a Zionist view, is neither ethical nor practical. This will inevitably lead to elections again. Bibi is looking to lean on elements that will cancel his trial. Relying on extremist elements is something that will not work. Ben Gvir is a failure of the Likud, don't ask me about it, ask the Likud. He does not symbolize Zionism and leaning on an extremist factor leads you repeatedly to political crises until elections."
"We need to stop with ‘yes to Bibi, no to Bibi’. The citizens of Israel are very concerned about governance and the cost of living, and I want to show them what I do bring to the table. There are Israeli citizens who are afraid to walk the streets and are afraid to wave the flag. We intend to touch this and I did not declare for nothing that I want to be the Minister of Public Security," he added.
Asked whether the Zionist Spirit Party will run to the very end, Hendel replied, "Amazing, we bring great tidings to the statesmanlike right and 12 hours later, two polls show that we are passing the electoral threshold. You will see that in the next polls we will have five, six seats. There is a statesmanlike right that has no home and they don't want to vote for Ben Gvir and Smotrich, and they do want to vote. What do you want, that we force them to vote center-left? There is an ideological discussion here for many people - the connection between Ayelet and me opened the door for them."
(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)