Yamina leader Naftali Bennett surrendered to pressure from the Right to not form a government with Ra’am (United Arab List) head Mansour Abbas on Thursday, telling Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid the idea was off the table.
Lapid, who has a mandate to form a government until June 2, called a 9:00 p.m. press conference to respond.
Bennett cited the recent spate of violence between Arabs and Jews in mixed cities.
“I am removing the change government from the agenda,” Bennett said. “A change government, with the makeup planned cannot deal with the problems in mixed cities. These are things that can’t be done when relying on Mansour Abbas.”
Bennett said he was working on forming what he called a wide unity government with New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar, Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz and Lapid. He said he opposed going to a fifth election in two and a half years.
One idea raised by a source close to Bennett in a private conversation on Wednesday was a three-way rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office: First Bennett for a year and a half, then Netanyahu for two years and then six months for Sa’ar.
Abbas said in an interview with Army Radio on Thursday morning that the violence in the mixed cities should not end chances of forming a coalition that has the support of Jewish and Arab MKs. He told interviewers Udi Segal and Keren Marciano that he stopped coalition talks, because they would be inappropriate in such a sensitive time. But he said they would be restarted immediately after the escalation ends.