Midnight deadline approaches for Israeli coalition to unite and challenge Netanyahu

  • Midnight deadline approaches for Israeli coalition to unite and challenge Netanyahu

Midnight deadline approaches for Israeli coalition to unite and challenge Netanyahu

About 30 minutes before a midnight deadline, opposition leader Yair Lapid, a centrist, officially informed the country's president that he has reached agreements with political allies to form a new government, according to a party statement.

Mr Lapid's agreement could prove to be the final chapter in the Netanyahu dynasty, which has dominated Israeli politics for more than a decade.

Netanyahu, who has yet to respond to Lapid's announcement, controls 30 seats in the 120-member Knesset, nearly twice as many as Lapid's Yesh Atid party, and he is allied with at least three other religious and nationalist parties.

The prime minister condemned the move as the "fraud of the century" earlier this week after Bennett announced his support for the new government, warning Bennett could give power to a "dangerous left-wing government".

"In the days before the vote can take place, Netanyahu will intensify the pressure, using protesters on the street, slime merchants on social media, and every rabbi prepared to issue blessings and curses, for him to sway the wavering legislators of Bennett's party", Anshel Pfeffer, an Israeli journalist and Netanyahu biographer, wrote in the left-leaning Haaretz daily newspaper.

The coalition puts the sitting prime minister on the verge of being ousted, potentially making way for Naftali Bennett, the head of Yamina party, to become his successor under the newly-signed coalition deal.

Netanyahu, who in the past has incited against Israel's Arab minority, even attempted to court the United Arab List but was thwarted by a small ultranationalist party.

Lapid will then take over as prime minister and Bennett will serve as the alternate governing head.

In a nationally televised address, Bennett said he would "form a national unity government" with Lapid in order to "save the country from a tailspin and return Israel to its course".

The coalition would consist of a patchwork of ideologically opposed parties and would include a party that represents Palestinian citizens of Israel for the first time in Israeli history.

The announcement capped four frenzied weeks of negotiations since President Reuven Rivlin tasked Lapid with trying to form a government after Netanyahu failed. Should they fail, Israel will face its fifth election in just over two years. Joint List lawmaker Aida Touma-Sliman said she would oppose the new deal because "getting rid of Netanyahu and keeping his path is a political mistake". The opposition leader and his partners now have at least a week before lawmakers must vote to confirm their government - a period during which Netanyahu and his Likud party are expected to try to do what they can to prevent it.

Crucially, a far-right party allied with Netanyahu refused to join forces with a small Arab party that emerged as one of the kingmakers in the race.

An emergency government formed past year between Netanyahu and former military chief Benny Gantz to battle the coronavirus pandemic quickly became mired in political bickering and collapsed in December. A unity government formed with his main rival a year ago collapsed after just six months.

The premier and leader of the conservative Likud party, who served an earlier three-year term in the 1990s, has always been the dominant figure of Israeli politics and was close to former US president Donald Trump. This step might not happen until Monday, which means the vote could be held as late as June 14.

We must defend Israel's global status and its good reputation in the family of nations, fight antisemitism and hatred of Israel, and preserve the pillars of our democracy.

He comes from a prominent Zionist family.

His uncle, Abba Eban, was Israel's first foreign minister and ambassador to the United Nations and United States.

The first candidate is Myriam Peretz, 67, a settler and former headmistress widely known as "the mother of sons" after she lost two of her six children while officers in the Israeli army.

This disparate grouping shares a single common goal: the removal of Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving PM, now on trial for corruption, from office.

If the country is forced into another vote, Herzog could help determine who becomes prime minister.