Netanyahu's opponents reach coalition deal to oust Israeli PM
(Sourced from PTI)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's opponents on Wednesday announced they have reached a deal to form a new governing coalition. This now paves the way for the ouster of the longtime Israeli leader. The dramatic announcement by opposition leader Yair Lapid and his main coalition partner, Naftali Bennett, came barely half an hour before the Wednesday midnight deadline was to expire.
This prevents the country from plunging into what would have been its fifth consecutive election in just over two years. "This government will work for all the citizens of Israel, those that voted for it and those that didn't. It will do everything to unite Israeli society," Lapid said. Under the agreement, Lapid and Bennett will split the job of prime minister in rotation.
Bennett will serve the first two years, while Lapid will serve the final two years. The historic deal also includes a small Islamist party, the United Arab List, making it the first Arab party ever to be part of a governing coalition. The agreement still needs to be approved by the Knesset, or parliament. The vote is expected to take place early next week.
If it goes through, Lapid and a diverse array of partners that span the Israeli political spectrum will end the record-setting 12-year rule of Netanyahu. Netanyahu, desperate to remain in office while he fights corruption charges, is expected to do everything possible in the coming days to prevent the new coalition from taking power. If he fails, he will be pushed into the opposition.
Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin, a member of Netanyahu's Likud party, may also use his influence to delay the required parliamentary vote. Meanwhile, Lapid called on Levin to convene the Knesset for the vote as soon as possible.
Netanyahu has been the most dominant player in Israeli politics over the past three decades serving as PM since 2009 in addition to an earlier term in the late 1990s. Despite a long list of achievements, including diplomatic agreements with four Arab countries, he has become a polarizing figure since being indicted on charges of fraud, breach of trust, and accepting bribes in 2019.
Bennett is a former top aide to Netanyahu whose small Yamina party caters to religious and nationalist hardliners. He was a successful high-tech entrepreneur and leader of the West Bank settler movement before entering politics.