Israel's left-wing parties are too weak to hinder incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's chances of winning a third term in the next Knesset, but Netanyahu will try to form a left-wing governing coalition with them, Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett said in speeches Sunday and Monday.
Speaking at B'Sheva's annual Jerusalem Conference, Bennett said that Netanyahu intends to form a "Leftist government" in the upcoming Knesset.
"[Hatnuah Chairwoman] Tzipi Livni is not ready to commit that she will not sit in the Netanyahu government," Bennett said. "The prime minister's agenda is to establish a Left government as happened in the last elections. The public chose a nationalistic government, and got [Defense Minister] Ehud Barak," Bennett said.
The day before, however, Bennett sounded more sympathetic to the prime minister.
"Bibi [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] will be the next prime minister. Even if Hanin Zoabi (National Democratic Assembly) ends up serving as the education minister, the Left won't form an obstructive bloc," Bennett said Sunday during a discussion with students at the Ono Academic College, in Kiryat Ono.
"I worked for Netanyahu, and his heart is in the right place," Bennett opined. "He wants to do good, and he needs strong, ethical people by his side to guarantee that he remains steadfast."
Bennett also touched on recent attacks by Likud MKs and members against the Habayit Hayehudi party, which included a controversial advertisement by a former Likud-primaries candidate that compared the national-religious party to a Jewish ghetto.
"These last few days, many people have spoken about extremism in Habayit Hayehudi, and Likud MKs are the instigators of such discourse. I believe that we are a real centrist party. Likud has deviated to the left," Bennett said.
Despite Bennett's criticism of Netanyahu, the Habayit Hayehudi chairman said his party would back the incumbent prime minister's ongoing premiership following the elections.
Bennett — who opposes the creation of a Palestinian state — refused to comment on whether he would agree to future peace negotiations between Jerusalem and the Palestinian government.
"I intend to be one of Netanyahu's reliable partners, but I don't want to cross any red lines right now," he said.
After Bennett laid out his position, he opened up the floor to students for a Q&A session.
The student council chairwoman, a captain in the reserves, asked Bennett if he would sign a declaration stipulating, among other things, that he would be obligated to fulfill any democratic government decision to evacuate Jewish communities.
Bennett replied that he would not.
The captain's question was interrupted by other students in the auditorium who ridiculed her for being provocative.
"I do not respond to pressure or threats. We must compel all Israeli parties to sign a prohibition against the expulsion of Jews," Bennett said, exiting the auditorium to the sound of applause.