Netanyahu is expected to lose power as the Israeli parliament votes on a new government
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reign as the country’s longest-serving leader should end on Sunday when lawmakers will vote on a new government.
Following a Knesset vote of confidence, the new coalition cabinet is expected to be sworn in and set up a government committed to healing a nation deeply divided over Netanyahu’s departure.
The 71-year-old Netanyahu has been prime minister since 2009, but was unable to prevent a power-sharing alliance between his two main opponents: centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid and right-wing former defense minister Naftali Bennett.
Lapid and Bennett brokered a deal to split the prime minister’s duties over the next four years after Netanyahu’s traditional allies with the government failed to grow together around the leader after Israel’s fourth general election in two years earlier this spring.
Bennett, a Hawk tech entrepreneur, will serve as prime minister for two years before switching roles from Lapid, a former television host.
The new government represents a broad political spectrum, including for the first time the Islamist United Arab List, which represents the historically disenfranchised Arab minority.
The coalition has planned to largely avoid solving volatile problems in the West Bank in favor of domestic reforms.
Netanyahu will continue to be an opposition power to be reckoned with, as the patchwork government only has a wafer-thin majority in the 120-member Knesset.
After initially rising to the highest seat of Israeli power in the 1990s, Netanyahu won four terms in a row but remained a polarizing figure, especially amid his ongoing corruption lawsuit.
Long-protested opponents of the prime minister late Saturday celebrated the end of an era and demonstrated outside his official residence in Jerusalem by singing, dancing and drumming in front of a banner that read “Bye Bye, Bibi, Bye bye”.
Supporters are largely angry at the rejection of a leader who is committed to security and who is staunchly against giving in to outside pressure to move towards a Palestinian state.
With postal wires