Israel: Opposition reaches deal to unseat longtime PM Benjamin Netanyahu | News | DW | 02.06.2021
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Israel: Opposition reaches deal to unseat longtime PM Benjamin Netanyahu

Opposition figures have reached a deal to take rotating leadership of the country — setting the stage for the departure of longtime leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel Koalitionsregierung Lapid und Naftali Bennett

Opposition leader Yair Lapid (left) managed to strike a deal with several other parties including that of Naftali Bennett

An unlikely coalition of disparate Israeli opposition parties struck a deal on Wednesday night to form a government. 

The agreement could potentially resolve an extended period of political deadlock and force beleaguered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the political stage after 12 years in office.

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 signaling 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 honored to inform you that I have succeeded in forming a government," Reuters reported.

The lawmaker wrote on Twitter that he had spoken to the president and said that "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."

Who is part of the coalition?

The coalition government includes a crowded field of parties.

Beyond his own Yesh Atid (There is a Future) and Bennett's Yamina (Rightwards), Lapin garnered support from Israel Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) led by Avigdor Lieberman, Kahol Lavan (Blue and White) led by Benny Gantz, Labor led by Merav Michaeli, the social-democratic Meretz (Vigor) party led by Nitzan Horowitz, as well as Ra'am (United Arab List) led by Mansour Abbas. 

Committee posts tied to judicial appointments, and the order in which rotating posts are filled have been sticking points. So, too, have building laws regarding Arab housing and the recognition of Beduin villages in the Negev, both of which the Islamic Ra'am party said must be resolved before it could back the new government.

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Coalition racked with opposing ideas

DW Jerusalem correspondent Tania Krämer talked to DW about the difficulties of forming the coalition with parties holding opposing views.

"We have on the one hand hardline right-wing parties, some of them are pro-annexation, pro-settlements [in the occupied Palestinian territories], against a Palestinian state and on the other side you have the small, left-wing Meretz which is in favor of a Palestinian state," she explained.

While it is believed that they will first focus on less ideologically barbed issues, Krämer said that the different parties "will have to overcome their differences to make this government last."

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)

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Israeli opposition coalition emerges to oust Netanyahu