As coalition talks entered a third week on Sunday, tensions between Likud-Beytenu and Habayit Hayehudi continued to escalate, with no decision yet made on the latter's entry into the coalition. A senior Likud-Beytenu official involved in the coalition talks attacked Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett on Saturday, accusing him of reneging on his campaign promises.
"He is defrauding his voters. In aligning himself with [Yesh Atid leader] Yair Lapid, Bennett is actively preventing the establishment of a nationalist coalition," the official said.
"During his campaign, Bennett promised his voters that he will support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and he even put a photo of Netanyahu in his campaign posters to emphasize the degree of cooperation that he planned to exercise after the election. But now, immediately after the election, through his alliance with Lapid, Bennett is working to prevent the establishment of a nationalist government, by rejecting the haredim (ultra-Orthodox). Bennett is making sure that the dominant parties in the coalition will be Lapid and [Hatnuah Chairwoman] Tzipi Livni."
Vice Prime Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon also addressed the coalition tensions in an interview on Channel 2 on Saturday, saying that "the only party that received an advance offer to join the coalition was Habayit Hayehudi."
"There is a strange alliance at work here, motivated by inappropriate considerations," he said. "Therefore, this is an effort to defraud voters. Habayit Hayehudi voters believed that their votes would bolster the prime minister from the Right, but this union [with Lapid] does not reflect that. If the alliance is against the haredim, then we don't support it."
A senior Habayit Hayehudi official said in response Saturday that "Netanyahu waged a campaign against Habayit Hayehudi and our rabbis, and he treated Bennett in a way that does not inspire trust, to say the least, when he opted to meet with [Labor Chairwoman] Shelly Yachimovich and [Meretz leader] Zehava Gal-On before meeting with him. Now they are acting insulted and Bennett is trying to improve his chances through political understandings with another party."
MK Ayelet Shaked, No. 5 on Habayit Hayehudi's list, called the Likud's accusations "an insult to the public's intelligence."
"What did the voter get from the Likud? Offering Shelly Yachimovich the Finance Ministry? Is that not voter fraud? For years Netanyahu and Yachimovich have stated just how far apart their economic worldviews were," Shaked wrote on her Facebook page.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu is still exploring various avenues of assembling a coalition. On Friday, he met with Yachimovich for a second time. After the meeting, Yachimovich said the meeting went well, but that "the large gaps between our worldviews remain as they were, and there is no change in our stances."