Netanyahu can lose PM jobs when rivals try to join forces

Former allies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that they would form a coalition government with opposition to Israeli leaders and take a major step towards ending long-standing Prime Minister rule.

A dramatic announcement by small Yamina leader Naftali Bennett set the stage for a series of steps that could drive Netanyahu and his dominant Likud party in opposition next week.

Bennett and his new partner, led by opposition leader Yair Lapid, still face some obstacles, but the two countries have reached an agreement to end the deadlock that has plunged the country into four elections in the last two years. It seemed that he was serious about getting it done.

“I will do my best to form a national unity government with my friend Yale Rapid, and God will be happy to save the country from the tailwind and bring Israel back into its path. “I will,” Bennett said.

Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett, leader of the Yemina Party, will speak with the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on May 30, 2021. (Pool via Jonathan Cinder / AP)

By Wednesday, the pair will have to complete the contract, each expected to serve as prime minister for two years on a rotation contract, with Bennett holding the job first. Rapid’s Yesh Atid party said the negotiating team was due to meet late Sunday.

Bennett was a former White House Chief of Staff in Netanyahu, who held senior positions in the Cabinet. He is a former leader of the Settlement movement on the west bank of the Jordan River and leads a small party based on religious and nationalist Jews.

Bennett said there was no viable way to form a right-wing government backed by Netanyahu after the deadlocked elections on March 23. He said the same result would be achieved in another election and that it was time to end the cycle.

“Such a government will only succeed if we work together as a group,” he said. He says everyone “will need to postpone some of their dreams come true. Instead of fighting the impossible all day, focus on what they can do.”

If Benjamin, Rapid and other partners can close the deal, at least for the foreseeable future, the record tenure of Netanyahu, Israel’s most dominant figure in Israeli politics, will end. Prime Minister Netanyahu has served as prime minister for the past 12 years and earlier in the late 1990s.

In a statement televised, Netanyahu accused Bennett of betraying Israel’s right wing and urged nationalist politicians not to join what he called the “left wing government.”

“Such a government is dangerous to Israel’s security and to the future of the nation,” he said.

Netanyahu is currently being tried on charges of corruption that he denied.

To form a government, the leader must secure the support of a majority of 61 seats in the 120-seat Knesset or parliament. Coalitions are usually built with smaller partners, as no single party controls the majority alone. The current parliament has 13 political parties of various sizes.

As the leader of the largest party, Netanyahu was given the first opportunity to form a coalition by the country’s leading president. However, he was unable to secure a majority in his traditional religious and nationalist allies.

After Netanyahu failed to establish power, Rapid was given four weeks to put together a coalition. He has to complete the job until Wednesday.

Bennett’s Yamina Party controls only seven seats in Congress, but he has emerged as a kind of kingmaker by providing the support needed to secure a majority. If he succeeds, his party will be the smallest to lead the Israeli government.

The deadline for Wednesday is approaching, and negotiations are in full swing. Lapid has so far signed coalition agreements with three other political parties. If he signs a contract with Bennett, the rest of the partners are expected to be immediately in place.

It then takes about a week to submit the coalition to Parliament, vote for formal confidence, and authorize the establishment of Parliament.

Epoch Times staff contributed to this report

Posted on