Israeli opposition create coalition deal to force Netanyahu out

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Israeli opposition create coalition deal to force Netanyahu out

The Devil you know…

After 12 years in power, Netanyahu is set to leave office under the cloud of criminal accusation and a climate of political deadlock. Opposition figures have reached a deal to take rotating leadership of the country.

An unlikely coalition of disparate Israeli opposition parties struck a deal on Wednesday night to form a government, potentially resolving an extended period of political deadlock and forcing beleaguered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the political stage after 12 years in power.

Yair Lapid, a centrist, and Naftali Bennett, an ultranationalist, announced the deal after they succeeded in cobbling together a coalition government with a number of parties from across the political spectrum. 

Lapid managed to pull together signatures from seven parties signalling their willingness to form a coalition shortly before his mandate to form a new government expired at midnight.

Lapid informed Israeli President Reuven Rivlin over email, saying: “I am honoured to inform you that I have succeeded in forming a government,” Reuters reported.

The coalition agreement must now pass a vote of confidence in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, before a new government and prime minister is sworn in.

What happens next?

Lapid has officially informed President Rivlin that he has the backing of the majority of the Knesset to form a cabinet — over two months after the March 23 election.

The new government could face a vote of confidence in Israel’s Knesset parliament sometime before next Wednesday unless Lapid asks for time to negotiate any disagreements before parties sign on to a binding coalition. 

Such a move would delay the vote by another week and give parties time to iron out any disagreements about the policies and appointments of the new government. 

It is expected that Netanyahu, the country’s longest-serving prime minister, will attempt to bring lawmakers from the coalition over to his side.

Unless the newly formed coalition collapses before being sworn in, Netanyahu’s 12-year stint in the top job will come to an end.

ab, js/rs (AP, AFP, Reuters)

Who is Naftali Bennett, Israel’s potential prime minister?

It is very doubtful there will be any reprieve for Palestine if Naftali Bennett is confirmed, prime minister.

Bennett is a multi-millionaire former tech entrepreneur who made a name in politics with right-wing, religious-nationalist rhetoric.

A former special forces commando, Bennett is the son of US-born parents and lives with his wife Galit and four children in the central city of Raanana.

He entered politics after selling his tech start-up for $145m in 2005, and the next year became chief of staff to Netanyahu, who was then in opposition.

After leaving Netanyahu’s office, Bennett in 2010 became head of the Yesha Council, which lobbies for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.

He then took politics by storm in 2012 when he took charge of the far-right Jewish Home party, which was facing annihilation.

He increased its parliamentary presence fourfold, while making headlines with a series of incendiary comments about the Palestinians.

In 2013, he said Palestinian “terrorists should be killed, not released”.

He has courted controversy on several occasions, once stating that the West Bank is not under occupation because “there was never a Palestinian state here”, and that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could not be resolved but must be endured.

Beyond holding the defence portfolio, Bennett has served as Netanyahu’s economy minister and education minister.

He re-branded Jewish Home as Yamina (Rightward) in 2018, and was part of Netanyahu’s coalition which collapsed the same year.

But he was not asked to join a Netanyahu-led unity government in May last year – a move seen as an expression of the prime minister’s personal contempt towards him, despite their shared ideology.

In opposition and with the coronavirus pandemic raging in 2020, Bennett dampened his right-wing rhetoric to focus on the health crisis, moving to broaden his appeal by releasing plans to contain the virus and aid the economy.

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