While Bennett and his new partners, headed by opposition leader YairLapid, still face some obstacles, the sides appeared to be serious about reaching a deal and ending the deadlock that has plunged the country into four elections in the past two years.
With the announcement by a former ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would seek to form a coalition government with the Opposition,Israel’s longest serving Isreali’s leader’s regime may come to an end, media reports here suggested/ The ultra-nationalist leader Naftali Bennett said his party would join talks to form a governing coalition with centrist party leader YairLapid. The dramatic announcement by Naftali Bennett, leader of the small hardline Yamina party, set the stage for a series of steps that could push Netanyahu and his dominant Likud party into the opposition in the coming week.
“It’s my intention to do my utmost in order to form a national unity government along with my friend YairLapid, so that, God willing, together we can save the country from a tailspin and return Israel to its course,” Bennett said.Bennett, 49, who leads the Yamina party, made his announcement in a televised address. “Mr Netanyahu is no longer trying to form a right-wing government because he knows full well that there isn’t one. He is seeking to take the whole national camp, and the whole country, with him on his personal last stand,” he said. “I will do everything to form a national unity government with my friend YairLapid.”
While Bennett and his new partners, headed by opposition leader YairLapid, still face some obstacles, the sides appeared to be serious about reaching a deal and ending the deadlock that has plunged the country into four elections in the past two years.They have until Wednesday to complete a deal in which each is expected to serve two years as prime minister in a rotation deal, with Bennett holding the job first. Lapid’sYeshAtid party said negotiating teams were to meet later Sunday.
Bennett, a former top aide to Netanyahu who has held senior Cabinet posts, shares the prime minister’s hard-line ideology. He is a former leader of the West Bank settlement movement and heads a small party whose base includes religious and nationalist Jews. Yet he has had a strained and complicated relationship with his one-time mentor due to personal differences.Bennett said there was no feasible way after the deadlocked March 23 election to form a right-wing government favored by Netanyahu. He said another election would yield the same results and said it was time to end the cycle.
“A government like this will succeed only if we work together as a group,” he said. He said everyone “will need to postpone fulfilling part of their dreams. We will focus on what can be done, instead of fighting all day on what’s impossible.”If Bennett and Lapid and their other partners can wrap up a deal, it would end, at least for the time being, the record-setting tenure of Netanyahu, the most dominant figure in Israeli politics over the past three decades. Netanyahu has served as prime minister for the past 12 years and also held an earlier term in the late 1990s.
In his own televised statement, Netanyahu accused Bennett of betraying the Israeli right wing and urged nationalist politicians not to join what he called a “leftist government. A government like this is a danger to the security of Israel, and is also a danger to the future of the state,” he said. Netanyahu is desperate to stay in power while he is on trial. He has used his office as a stage to rally his base and lash out against police, prosecutors and the media.
Despite his electoral dominance, Netanyahu has become a polarizing figure since he was indicted on charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in late 2019. Each of the past four elections was seen as a referendum on Netanyahu’s fitness to rule, and each ended in deadlock.In order to form a government, a party leader must secure the support of a 61-seat majority in the 120-seat Knesset, or parliament. Because no single party controls a majority on its own, coalitions are usually built with smaller partners. Thirteen parties of various sizes are in the current parliament.
While Bennett’s Yamina party controls just seven seats in parliament, he has emerged as a kingmaker of sorts by providing the necessary support to secure a majority. If he is successful, his party would be the smallest to lead an Israeli government.Lapid already faced a difficult challenge, given the broad range of parties in the anti-Netanyahu bloc that have little in common. They include dovish left-wing parties, a pair of right-wing nationalist parties, including Bennett’s Yamina, and most likely the Islamist United Arab List.Although Arabs make up some 20% of Israel’s population, an Arab party has never before sat in an Israeli coalition government.
Israeli media reported that under the proposed terms of the deal, Mr Bennett would replace Mr Netanyahu, 71, as prime minister and later give way to MrLapid, 57, in a rotation agreement. The arrangement has not been officially confirmed. The proposed coalition would bring together factions from the right, the left and the centre of Israeli politics. While the parties have little in common politically, they are united in their desire to see Mr Netanyahu’s time in office come to an end.
The prime minister, who is on trial for fraud, fell short of a decisive majority at a general election in March. It was the country’s fourth inconclusive vote in two years – and again Netanyahu failed to secure coalition allies. After Netanyahu’s failure to form a government, Lapid was then given four weeks to cobble together a coalition.YohananPlesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, said Netanyahu will try to undermine those efforts until the end. Even if Lapid and Bennett manage to put together a government, Netanyahu is unlikely to disappear, Plesner said.Netanyahu could remain as opposition leader, working to exploit the deep ideological differences among his opponents to cause the coalition to fracture. “History teaches us it would be unwise to write him off,” he said.