Ex-Defence Minister renews talks with Netanyahu to form govt

 Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Tel Aviv, (Samajweekly) Former Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett, also leader of the pro-settler party of Yamina, has renewed talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a coalition government.

Local media reports said that Bennett made the announcement during a closed-door meeting on Thursday after he backed out from his intention to form a coalition government with Netanyahu’s rival, Yair Lapid, reports Xinhua news agency.

He said that the possibility of joining the “pro-change bloc” of parties that seek to replace Netanyahu, was off the table.

Bennett said that the move was made due to the security situation in the past days, in which the clashes between Israel and Palestinians, especially the militants in Gaza Strip, have been escalating, in addition to the daily clashes between Jews and Arabs in major Israeli cities.

Lapid, the opposition leader and head of the central party of Yesh Atid, said in a televised statement that Bennet “is wrong”.

He vowed to continue trying to form a unity government to replace Netanyahu.

The opposition leader warned that failing to form a new coalition might lead to a new election, which would be Israel’s fifth in two years due to the political stalemate.

Bennett’s move means the “pro-change bloc” might not have enough seats in the 120-seat Parliament to form a majority government.

It has to garner 61 seats to form a coalition.

On May 5, Lapid received a 28-day-long mandate from President Reuven Rivlin to put together a coalition after Netanyahu failed to do so.