Conservative Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett has backed out of an opposition coalition to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, citing massive unrest between the country’s Jewish and Arab communities.
The “change” coalition would have included the Islamist Ra’am party, citing massive unrest between the country’s Jewish and Arab communities.
The current composition of the anti-Netanyahu bloc would be unable to deal with the unrest, Bennett said. Further, such a government would need the support of Mansour Abbas, the head of the Ra’am party, and in the current climate that was not possible.
“I am removing the change government from the table,” Bennett said. “A change government, in its current composition, cannot deal with the problems in mixed [Arab-Jewish] cities. These are things that cannot be done when relying on Mansour Abbas.”
Bennett said he had returned to negotiations with Netanyahu, to form a “wide unity government” with the prime minister, Netanyahu’s arch-rival and Likud defect New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar, Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz and Lapid.
He stressed that is strongly opposed for a fifth round of elections in two and a half years.
A source close to Bennett was quoted as saying that a deal may included a three-way rotation for the premiership, beginning with Bennett serving as prime minister for a year and a half, followed by Netanyahu for two years and then six months for Sa’ar.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party said that the opposition parties would continue to pursue a coalition to replace Netanyahu, even without Bennett. Lapid has 20 days left to form a coalition, after Prime Minister Netanyahu failed to form a majority within the 28-day deadline.
A poll last week showed that only 24% of Bennett’s voters supported a coalition with the left-wing opposition.
Joel B. Pollak contributed to this article.