Israeli opposition groups announce coalition deal, setting stage for Netanyahu departure | News | DW

An unlikely coalition of disparate Israeli opposition parties struck a deal on Wednesday night to form a government, potentially resolving an extended period of political deadlock and forcing beleaguered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the political stage after 12 years in power.

Yair Lapid, a centrist, and Naftali Bennett, an ultranationalist, announced the deal after they succeeded in cobbling together a coalition government with a number of parties from across the political spectrum. 

Lapid managed to pull together signatures from seven parties signaling their willingness to form a coalition shortly before his mandate to form a new government expired at midnight.

Lapid informed Israeli President Reuven Rivlin over email, saying: “I am honored to inform you that I have succeeded in forming a government,” Reuters reported.

The lawmaker wrote on Twitter that he had spoken to the president and said that “this government will work for all the citizens of Israel, those that voted for it and those that didn’t. It will do everything to unite Israeli society.”

A very big tent

Beyond his own Yesh Atid (There is a Future) and Bennett’s Yamina (Rightwards), Lapin garnered support from Israel Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) led by Avigdor Lieberman, Kahol Lavan (Blue and White) led by Benny Gantz, Labor led by Merav Michaeli, the social-democratic Meretz (Vigor) party led by Nitzan Horowitz, and Ra’am (United Arab List) led by Mansour Abbas, 

Committee posts tied to judicial appointments, and the order in which rotating posts are filled have been sticking points. So, too, have building laws regarding Arab housing and the recognition of Beduin villages in the Negev, both of which the Islamic Ra’am party said must be resolved before it could back the new government.

What happens next?

Lapid has officially informed President Rivlin that he has the backing of the majority of the Knesset to form a cabinet — over two months after the March 23 election.

The new government could face a vote of confidence in Israel’s Knesset parliament sometime before next Wednesday unless Lapid asks for time to negotiate any disagreements before parties sign on to a binding coalition. 

Such a move would delay the vote by another week and give parties time to iron out any disagreements about the policies and appointments of the new government. 

It is expected that Netanyahu, the country’s longest-serving prime minister, will attempt to bring lawmakers from the coalition over to his side.

Unless the newly formed coalition collapses before being sworn in, Netanyahu’s 12-year stint in the top job will come to an end.

ab, js/rs (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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