JERUSALEM, June 3 (Reuters) – Israel’s opposition leader came close to the overthrow of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he officially told the country’s president that he had struck deals with political allies to form a new government.
By Mayan Lubell
About 35 minutes before the midnight Wednesday deadline, centrist Yair Lapid told President Reuven Rivlin in an email: “I am honored to inform you that I have succeeded in forming a government.
Rivlin, who was attending the Israel Soccer Cup final at the time, congratulated Lapid by phone, according to his office.
Lapid’s main partner is nationalist Naftali Bennett, who would first serve as prime minister as part of a rotation between the two men. Lapid, 57, a former TV host and finance minister, would take over after about two years.
Their coalition government would include a patchwork of small and medium parties from across the political spectrum, including for the first time in Israel’s history a party that represents the 21% of Israel’s Arab minority – the Arab List. united.
It would also include Yamina (Right) de Bennett, center-left Blue and White, led by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the left-wing Meretz and Labor parties, the nationalist party Yisrael Beitenu of former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. and New Hope, a right-wing party led by former Education Minister Gideon Saar, who broke with Netanyahu’s Likud.
But the fragile new government, which would command a very slim majority in parliament, was only due to be sworn in in about 10 to 12 days, leaving little room for Netanyahu’s camp to attempt to overturn it by turning lawmakers on their side. and vote against.
Israeli political analysts largely expected Netanyahu to try all possible political maneuvers to make this happen, grabbing Yamina members who are unhappy to side with Arab and left-wing lawmakers.
“Calm down. Netanyahu is still prime minister for a few days until the vote of confidence and he will fight to the end to deprive the new government of its slim majority. It is still very far from over,” wrote on Twitter Anshel Pfeffer, political analyst for the liberal Haaretz newspaper.
Netanyahu, who has yet to respond to Lapid’s announcement, controls 30 seats in the 120-member Knesset, almost twice as many as Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, and is allied with at least three other religious parties and nationalists.
During a 12-year tenure in the highest office, Israel’s longest-serving ruler has been an often polarizing figure at home and abroad.
Netanyahu, 71, sought to discredit the Bennett-Lapid alliance, saying it would endanger Israel’s security – an allusion to efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear program and to manage still-strained Palestinian relations.
Lapid, a centrist, was given the task of forming a governing coalition after right-wing Netanyahu failed to do so following the March 23 election. He campaigned on a pledge to “restore sanity” to Israel, focusing on Netanyahu’s corruption trial on charges he denies.
“This government will work for all citizens of Israel, those who voted for it and those who did not. He will respect his opponents and do everything possible to unite and connect all parts of Israeli society, ”Lapid said on Twitter.
The new government, if sworn in, will face considerable diplomatic, security and economic challenges: Iran, the dying peace process with the Palestinians, an investigation into war crimes by the International Criminal Court and the economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.
A source involved in the coalition talks said the proposed new government would try to maintain consensus by avoiding burning ideological issues such as annexation or cession of occupied West Bank territory that Palestinians want for a state.
Bennett said both sides should compromise on such ideological issues in order to get the country back on track, with public debt at 72.4% in 2020, up from 60% in 2019 and the deficit dropping from 3.7. at 11.6% in 2020.% in 2019.
“It’s a night of great hope,” Gantz, who will remain in power under the coalition agreements, said on Twitter as he traveled to Washington in the aftermath of 11 days of fierce fighting with militants in Gaza. last month and as world powers scramble to revive a nuclear deal with Iran.
The end of Netanyahu’s tenure could provide a respite from unprecedented domestic political turmoil, Israel has held four elections in two years – but major changes in Israel’s foreign policy seem less likely.
After Lapid’s announcement, a few dozen activists in the Netanyahu protest movement erupted in joy. “He’s done, he’s finished, yalla Bibi, go ahead,” they chanted outside a bar in Tel Aviv, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.
“We hope this change will bring a better future to this wonderful state,” said Eran Margalit, a 27-year-old student.
(Additional reports by Dan Williams and Stephen Farrell in Jerusalem and Rami Amichay in Tel Aviv; written by Maayan Lubell; edited by Grant McCool)
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This notice was published: 2021-06-03 03:02:23