Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett for the first time explained the alliance between himself and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid on Sunday, emphasizing that he does not plan to compromise on the issue. In a status update on his Facebook page, Bennett wrote, "Why did we coordinate our steps with Yair Lapid? Because of the Likud's decision to leave Habayit Hayehudi out of the government."
"Were it not for this coordination," Bennett wrote, "there would be a government of Livni, Kadima, Shas, Yesh Atid and Likud, without religious Zionism and without Habayit Hayehudi. This government would go full speed ahead with Livni's policies (giving up Jerusalem, giving up the city of Ariel, an obsession with negotiating with the PLO, etc.) This is a fact.
"This coordination has changed the political map and forced the Likud to bring in Habayit Hayehudi. Because of this coordination, the government will be focused on social, economic and domestic issues, and not just diplomatic ones. This government will focus on social and economic issues in Israel (lowering the cost of living, lowering the cost of apartments, education, values, promoting Jewish identity, strengthening the Negev and Galilee), and will not only obsessively preoccupy itself with talking to Abu Ala [former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei].
"Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi have points in common, as well as points of dispute," wrote Bennett. "Let's focus on realizing what we have in common, and that's a lot. We'll continue to argue about the rest. We will not deviate from our principles. The public can judge us over the next four years."
Channel 10 TV News reported on Sunday night that settler leaders are demanding that Bennett enter a government with a nationalist majority. According to the report, settler leaders Zev (Zambish) Hever and Pinchas Wallerstein are putting pressure on MKs from Habayit Hayehudi. "There is no logic in going with Lapid under any circumstances," said Wallerstein. "Bennett is trying to turn Netanyahu into his puppet. He wants to crush the Likud. This does not serve nationalist goals."
A senior Likud source said on Sunday that, "Netanyahu would like to bring Habayit Hayehudi into the government and has directed his negotiating staff to do everything in its power to make sure this happens. Likud-Beytenu has no problem with the alliance between Bennett and Lapid and sees them both as desirable partners. The problem is that both parties condition their joining on the exclusion of other parties that belong to the nationalist camp and that expressed support for Netanyahu during the elections. The prime minister will not agree to creating a tear in the fabric of the nation or disqualifying an entire voting public."
Likud-Beytenu responded in a statement that "Habayit Hayehudi was the first party to receive an offer to enter the government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu. Habayit Hayehudi's central promise to its voters was that it would join a government headed by Netanyahu, strengthening it from the right. At present, the only thing preventing the establishment of a government with a majority in the nationalist camp is the refusal of Habayit Hayehudi to join the government headed by Netanyahu. The prime minister calls for a government with a majority in the nationalist camp and invites Yesh Atid to join it as well."
Meanwhile, following Sunday's reprint in Israel Hayom of Shmuel Katzbian's essay from the Shabbat flyer "Olam Katan," in which he criticizes Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett over his alliance with Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid, Habayit Hayehudi has sought to clarify that totally different opinions have been expressed in other Shabbat flyers.
In one of them, the "Matzav Ruach" flyer, which is widely distributed in synagogues, analyst Hagai Hoverman wrote over the weekend that, "only we the voters will decide whether Bennett cheated us or not, and until now Bennett definitely is acting in accordance with the mandate from his voters."
He also wrote that "Bennett is not suggesting Lapid for the role of prime minister in Netanyahu's place. He is only insisting that the next government, on a particular subject, act according to the principles that most voters for the two parties support. The negotiations with Habayit Hayehudi and Yesh Atid are stuck because with them, the argument is about ideology and values."
In another camp, tensions between Hatnuah's number 2 MK Amram Mitzna and Chairwoman Tzipi Livni is no secret, but Mitzna voiced it out loud for the first time on Sunday. The reason: the likely decision to appoint the party's number 3, Amir Peretz, as a minister in the government instead of him.
In an interview to Army Radio on Sunday, Mitzna said that, "the problem is not in the relationship between number 3 and me, but rather between Chairwoman Tzipi Livni and me. I believe there was a violation of trust, and I will say no more."
Mitzna refused to elaborate his views on the composition of a future coalition. "Time will tell," he said. "It seems we are far from composing a government. If and when it is established, we will let things develop of their own accord."
Despite the tension with Livni, Mitzna says he does not regret joining her party. "I am not sorry. I was elected to the Knesset in my own right, and I obviously have every intention of serving as an MK." He denied various reports that he intends to quit the Knesset under pressure from Livni so that he can be replaced by her close friend Yoel Hasson, who is seventh on Hatnuah's list.
"I have also heard speculation and remarks that perhaps Mitzna will quit and bring salvation to number seven. This will not happen. I am in the Knesset. That is my decision. That is my obligation to the many voters who voted for the party because of me, and I will of course do everything in my power as a Knesset member to have an impact on the difficult reality we are facing."
Mitzna refused to elaborate on his relationship with Livni, and said in response to another question on the subject, "I have a bone to pick with the chairwoman of Hatnuah and not with the audience of Army Radio, and therefore I will speak to her."
Last week Livni signed a coalition agreement with Likud-Beytenu in which it was decided that Livni would conduct diplomatic negotiations together with the prime minister's representative, Yitzhak Molcho, and that she would also be appointed justice minister. The party would also be given the environment minister post, which will apparently go to Amir Peretz, who was a secret party to the negotiations.