Tel Aviv (AP) – In Israel, a coalition to replace right-wing conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is increasingly likely.
The leader of the far-right Jamina party, Naftali Bennett, has decided to form an alliance with opposition leader Jair Lapid of the future party, Israeli radio reported. The former defense minister confirmed this in private conversations. An official announcement is expected soon.
According to media reports, Bennett has agreed with Lapid on a rotation in the head of government’s cabinet: Bennett will be the first prime minister for two years, then Lapid’s turn. If such a government really comes, the Netanyahu era would be over. The now 71-year-old has been prime minister since 2009. Before that, the politician was already at the head of the government in the second half of the 1990s.
In the parliamentary elections on March 23, Lapid’s Future Party, based in the political center, had become the second strongest force behind Netanyahu’s Likud. However, the fourth election within two years did not lead to a clear majority. Netanyahu had failed to form a government, so on May 5, President Reuven Rivlin gave the order to Lapid. The mandate is only valid until Wednesday midnight.
After an official announcement of the alliance with Bennett, Lapid would first have to inform Rivlin and then have seven days to swear in the government in parliament. This requires a simple majority of the 120 MPs in the Knesset. If successful, the Netanyahu era would be over. No head of government has held office in Israel for longer.
Netanyahu continued to fight his replacement all weekend. On Sunday, he offered Bennett and his arch-rival Gideon Saar of the right-wing Tikva Chadascha (New Hope) party a coalition with the three rotating prime ministers. In a Twitter video, he spoke of a “fatal moment for the security, character and future of the State of Israel”. He urged Bennett and Saar to “prevent a dangerous left-wing government”. Saar, who would become the first head of government after this proposal, rejected the proposal.
Lapid’s Future Party held coalition talks with Saars Tikva Chadascha (New Hope) on Sunday. It has already reached agreements with the left-liberal Meretz Party, the Labor Party and the far-right Israeli Beitenu Party led by former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Lapid aims to bring together a number of small parties that are far apart on the political spectrum. It would presumably be a minority government tolerated by Arab MPs.
The parties are mainly united by the rejection of Netanyahu, who is facing a corruption trial. However, their political goals vary widely and the expected government resembles a political patchwork. Political expert Tal Schneider said on Sunday that a difficult balancing act will be needed in the coalition agreements on, among other things, the two-state solution with the Palestinians.
After his replacement, Netanyahu sees her in the role of an active opposition leader. “He probably thinks this government will collapse very soon,” Schneider said. In that case, he counts on his victory in yet another election. “He probably plans to hold a fifth election soon.”