Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)
Bibi stares at ouster, foes seek quick vote
Lapid-bennett camp rushes to formalise a coalition govt to ensure Netanyahu doesn’t get scope to plot a comeback
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opponents on Thursday pushed for a quick parliamentary vote to formally end his lengthy rule, hoping to head off any last-minute attempts by the premier to derail their newly announced coalition government.
The latest political manoeuvring began just hours after opposition leader Yair Lapid and his main coalition partner, Naftali Bennett, declared they had reached a deal to form a new government and muster a majority in the 120-member parliament, or Knesset.
The coalition consists of eight parties from across the political spectrum with the shared goal of toppling Netanyahu after a record-setting 12 years in power. The alliance includes hardliners previously allied with Netanyahu, as well as centre-left parties and even an Arab faction - a first in Israeli politics.
Netanyahu lashed out at his foes on Thursday, signalling that he will continue to exert pressure on former ideological allies who joined the Lapid-bennett coalition. “All members of Knesset who were elected with rightwing votes need to oppose this dangerous leftist government,” he tweeted.
The anti-netanyahu bloc announced the coalition deal just before a deadline at midnight on Wednesday. The agreement triggered a complex process that is likely to stretch over the next week.
The coalition commands a razor-thin majority of 61 votes in parliament. Now the question is whether the group’s votes will hold together to name a new parliament speaker. The speaker would preside over a Knesset vote required to confirm the new government.
The current parliament speaker is a Netanyahu ally who could use his position to delay the vote and give Netanyahu time to sabotage the coalition.
As the Lapid-bennett coalition was coming together in recent days, Netanyahu and his supporters ramped up a pressure campaign against former hawkish allies, including Bennett and his No. 2 in the Yamina Party, Ayelet Shaked.
Under the new coalition agreement, Lapid and Bennett will split the job of the country’s prime minister on a rotational basis. Bennett, a former ally of Netanyahu, is to serve the first two years, while Lapid is to serve the final two years - though it is far from certain their fragile coalition will last that long.
The historic deal also includes a small Islamist party, the United Arab List, which would make it the first Arab party ever to be part of a governing coalition.
Netanyahu, who is desperate to remain in office while he fights serious corruption charges, is expected to do everything that he can over the coming days to prevent the new coalition from taking power.
If he fails, he will be pushed into the opposition.
The much awaited deal comes at a tumultuous time for Israel, which fought an 11-day war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip last month while also experiencing mob violence between Jews and Arabs in cities across the country.
The country is also emerging from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic that has caused economic damage and exposed tensions between the secular majority and the ultra-orthodox minority.