A day after Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid was tasked with forming Israel's next government, Yamina MK Amichai Chikli announced Thursday morning he will vote against a government headed by the centrist lawmaker and the leader of his party Naftali Bennett.
Chikli took to Twitter to express his opposition to a government featuring the left-wing Meretz and predominately Arab Joint List parties, which are a part of Lapid's so-called "coalition for change".
"Just to make things clear, I will vote against forming a government together with the Joint List and Meretz as we promised our constituents," he wrote.
Chikli also reportedly issued a letter to Bennett before meeting with President Reuven Rivlin Wednesday evening, where the right-wing lawmaker asked to be given the mandate to form the next government, stating he "opposes a government with the left."
This leaves the right-wing party with only six of its lawmakers who are in support of government talks with Lapid.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had to return the mandate to the president after failing to form a viable coalition government, praised Chikli's "courage and integrity" and slammed Yamina for "breaking all their commitments one by one".
The Likud chairman also launched a scathing attack on Bennet, who vowed during the run-up to the March 22 elections he will not join a government with Meretz and Labor or let Lapid become prime minister under any circumstance.
"When he met with us, he had only one demand — becoming prime minister. He didn't only bring it up in person, but at each and every meeting between the negotiation teams," Netanyahu said. "Now it turns out his sole goal was to bleed out the clock until the mandate changes hands and form a dangerous government with the left in which he'll get two years as prime minister."
"Simple truth is that this is going to be a dangerous left-wing government. A deadly combination of a lack of a clear path, incompetence and irresponsibility. Bennett and [fellow Yamina MK Ayelet] Shaked promised the public they won't join a government with Lapid, Meretz and Labor. Bennett has even signed a written guarantee live on air a day before the election. Now, they're doing the exact opposite."
The premier's remarks are part of a multi-faceted campaign launched by the ruling party to thwart his political adversaries from forming a government. The pressure is expected to mount on Yamina and its lawmaker in a bid to dismantle the 7-Knesset seats strong party.
Yamina MK Abir Kara is also said to be in Likud's crosshairs, with Netanyahu reportedly promising the freshman lawmaker a spot on Likud's list for the next two election cycles, in addition to the position of economy minister.
Kara, on his end, continues to back Bennett and voices his support for forming a government with the ultra-Orthodox parties, which are long-standing allies of Netanyahu.
First published: 12:36 , 05.06.21