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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on May 30, 2021. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sharply attacked Yamina Party chairman Naftali Bennett on Sunday, condemning the right-wing leader’s decision to join with opposition parties in forming a government.

Speaking at a Knesset press conference, Netanyahu accused Bennett of being driven solely by his ambition to be prime minister. “It’s the only thing that interests him,” he said.

Calling Bennett’s actions “the scam of the century,” Netanyahu reminded listeners that Bennett had promised repeatedly during his campaign that he would not help opposition leader Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid Party to become prime minister. Bennett had said such an act would “contradict his values,” Netanyahu noted.

“There isn’t a person in Israel who would have voted for you if they had known what you were going to do,” said Netanyahu.

Netanyahu said there was still a way to form a right-wing government, insisting that Knesset members had told him that should Bennett join a right-wing effort they would too.

“We are talking with MKs who can form [together] with us 61 supporters of a right-wing coalition … They say to us, ‘Now we say differently, but the moment Lapid’s mandate ends and a left-wing government isn’t established, we’re coming over to a right-wing government,’” said Netanyahu. (Lapid’s mandate to form a government expires on June 2.)

Netanyahu dismissed Bennett’s remarks earlier on Sunday that the unity government he was forming would not be a left-wing government.

“They call this a ‘unity government’ … A government with 40 left and hard-left mandates covered by a small fig leaf of parties that took votes from the right and transferred them to the left,” he said.

The government currently being formed posed a risk to the security and future of the State of Israel, said the premier.

“What will this do to Israeli deterrence? How will we appear in our enemies’ eyes? What will they say in Iran? What will they say in Gaza? What will they do in Iran?”

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