Lapid, Liberman discuss the substitution of PM; Bennett speaks to left and right parties

Yesh Atid President Yair Lapid and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman met on Friday for the first time since Tuesday’s elections to discuss ways to cooperate and potentially form a government to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The two agreed to stay in touch and meet again soon, a Yesh Atid spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, in a statement on Friday, Yamina President Naftali Bennett said that he had spoken for the past two days with the heads of all non-Arab parties on the right and left, wishing them a happy Easter and “emphasized the need to take responsible and principled action to free Israel from chaos and allow it to function properly again as soon as possible. ”

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Bennett, who has not pledged to support the blocs for or against Netanyahu, is seen as a lynchpin of any future coalition in the wake of the stalled elections.

Liberman, whose party won seven seats, hinted before the election that he plans to recommend that Lapid, whose party won 17 seats, be tasked with forming the next government. The leaders of the Labor Party (seven seats) and Meretz (six seats) have also indicated that they will back Yesh Atid chairman, giving him 37 recommendations.

After the results of the formal elections are delivered to President Reuven Rivlin next week, he will hold consultations with high-level representatives of each Knesset party, hear who they recommend for prime minister, and then impeach the candidate he judges to have the right. best chance of gathering a majority of the Knesset. with the task of forming a new government.

Azul y Blanco president Benny Gantz, whose party won eight seats, has said he will recommend whoever has the best chance of forming a government, without ruling out Lapid either.

Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope won just six seats after a campaign in which he vowed to become the next prime minister. The right-wing lawmaker vowed during the campaign not to sit under Lapid. However, the two have spoken since the election and agreed to cooperate to replace Netanyahu.

New Hope party leader Gideon Sa’ar and party members at New Hope headquarters in Tel Aviv on election night, March 23, 2021 (Tomer Neuberg / Flash90).

Lapid could receive six additional recommendations from the Joint List, whose chairman Ayman Odeh has not ruled out backing Yesh Atid’s leader.

However, Odeh No. 2 Ahmad Tibi told Kan News on Friday that the Joint List would have considerable requirements from parties of the anti-Netanyahu bloc asking for his support, both in recommendations to the president and in replacing the president. Knesset speaker in to take control of parliament from Netanyahu’s Likud.

“Not everything comes automatically, we have demands,” said Tibi.

Ahmad Tibi, a member of the Joint List party, speaks during a press conference presenting the Hebrew-language election campaign for the Joint List in Tel Aviv, on February 23, 2021 (Miriam Alster / Flash90)

If Lapid is endorsed by Blue and White, New Hope and the Joint List, he will have 57 recommendations, five more than Netanyahu if the prime minister is endorsed by Shas (nine seats), United Torah Judaism (seven seats) and Religious. Zionism (six seats).

Yamina leads Naftali Bennett in a party event on March 23, 2021 (Avi Dishi / Flash90).

Yamina’s Bennett, whose party won seven seats; and Ra’am chairman Mansour Abbas, whose party won four seats, is less likely to recommend Netanyahu or Lapid, but they are seen as coalition kings with options to cooperate with either bloc.

As the Netanyahu bloc, when Yamina is included, is only two seats away from the majority, the Likud has been trying to convince lawmakers on the opposite side to leave their current faction to join a right-wing religious coalition.

The most likely candidates appear to be in New Hope, which is more ideologically aligned with Likud and is made up mostly of former party members.

Likud MK Sharren Haskel announcing his resignation from the Knesset and the Likud party, on December 23, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

Sharren Haskel of New Hope tweeted on Friday that Likud representatives had offered her “half a kingdom” to defect.

“By no means. I am loyal to the values ​​New Hope was established on, and not to the portfolio it offers me. Give up,” he wrote.

On Thursday, New Hope lawmaker Yifat Shasha-Biton said that several of Netanyahu’s associates had also tried to convince her to leave their party and join the prime minister’s Likud faction.

“It is no secret that there is very intense pressure for us to join a Likud-led government, even for me personally,” Shasha-Biton told Channel 12. “I have received official communications, as have other members of New Hope, but it’s not going to happen. “

MK Yifat Shasha-Biton. (Miriam Alster / Flash90)

Yoaz Hendel, another lawmaker in New Hope, hinted at a similar effort to entice him to join the Likud.

“For everyone who contacts me, a texting campaign in the middle of the Passover cleanup is not going to make any difference,” Hendel wrote on Twitter, referring to a tradition before the next holiday. “Now, with the final results of the elections, there is only the possibility of a change of government. Give up the phone calls and go clean up. “

Sa’ar is a harsh critic of Netanyahu, who has repeatedly vowed not to join a Netanyahu-led coalition. New Hope had a disappointing performance in the elections after winning more than 20 seats.

Sa’ar tweeted on Friday: “I ask Netanyahu to step aside. Free Israel from your grasp and let us move on. “

The president of religious Zionism, Bezalel Smotrich, asked Sa’ar and Bennett de Yamina on Thursday to join Netanyahu’s bloc and “put aside personal matters and enter a right-wing government.”

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