Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu and his opponents are convulsing after an agreement has been reached to oust him
Tel Aviv, Israel – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opponents on Thursday urged a quick parliamentary vote to officially end his long term in office in hopes of fending off any last-minute attempts by the prime minister to derail their newly announced coalition government.
The latest political maneuvers began just hours after opposition leader Yair Lapid and his main coalition partner Naftali Bennett announced that they had reached an agreement on the formation of a new government and a majority in the 120-member parliament or the Knesset.
The coalition consists of eight parties from across the political spectrum with the common goal of overthrowing Netanyahu after a record-breaking 12 years in power. The alliance includes hardliners previously allied with Netanyahu, as well as center-left parties and even an Arab faction – a first in Israeli politics.
Netanyahu hit his enemies Thursday, signaling that he will continue to put pressure on former ideological allies who have joined the Lapid-Bennett coalition. “All Knesset members elected with the right votes must oppose this dangerous left-wing government,” he tweeted.
The anti-Netanyahu bloc announced the coalition agreement shortly before the deadline on Wednesday at midnight. The deal sparked a complex process that is likely to stretch over the next week.
The coalition has a wafer-thin majority of 61 votes in parliament. The question now arises as to whether the group’s votes will stick together to appoint a new Speaker of Parliament. The spokesman would chair a Knesset vote needed to endorse the new government.
The current speaker of parliament is an ally of Netanyahu who could use his position to delay the vote and give Netanyahu more time to sabotage the coalition.
When the Lapid-Bennett coalition convened in recent days, Netanyahu and his supporters launched a pressure campaign against former Hawk allies, including Bennett and his number 2 in the Yamina party, Ayelet Shaked.
Netanyahu accused them of betraying right-wing extremist values. His followers launched vicious social media campaigns and staged loud protests in front of Shaked’s house.
Anti-Netanhayu people were dancing in the streets when the deal was announced, notes CBS News senior foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer, adding that they mobilized during the March election to highlight the fact that he was because of Corruption and fraud were on trial.
But, Palmer said, Netanhayu has equally devoted supporters who applaud his nationalist policies and attribute him to Israel’s best COVID-19 vaccination program in the world.
Netanyahu and his supporters called a meeting later Thursday to discuss their next steps.
According to the coalition agreement, Lapid and Bennett will alternately split the post of prime minister. Bennett, a former Netanyahu ally, is slated to serve for the first two years, while Lapid is slated to serve the last two – though it’s by no means certain that their fragile coalition will last that long.
The historic deal also includes a small Islamist party, the United Arab List, which would be the first Arab party ever to join a government coalition.
Netanyahu, who desperately wants to stay in office while battling allegations of corruption, will do everything in the coming days to prevent the new coalition from coming to power. If he fails, he will be pushed into the opposition.
The deal comes at a turbulent time for Israel, which last month waged an eleven-day war against Hamas fighters in Gaza while witnessing mob violence between Jews and Arabs in cities across the country. The country is also emerging from the coronavirus crisis, which caused profound economic damage before the vaccination program was launched and exposed tensions between the secular majority and the ultra-Orthodox minority.
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