Jun 2, 2021 - World

Israeli "change coalition" announces new government to oust Netanyahu

Netanyahu. Photo: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid has notified President Reuven Rivlin that he managed to form a power-sharing government that will oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if it survives a confidence vote in the Knesset.

Why it matters: We are on the verge of a seismic event in Israeli politics, with Israel's longest-serving prime minister and the man who has dominated the country's politics and relations with the world for over a decade on the verge of being replaced. But he's not out quite yet.

Driving the news: Right-winger Naftali Bennett would serve first as prime minister for two years with the centrist Lapid then rotating into the job.

  • The announcement was made possible by the unprecedented decision of the Islamist Ra'am party — which would be the first Arab party to enter an Israeli government — to unite with Bennett and Lapid.
  • With Ra'am as well as the right-wing “New Hope” party, which also signed a coalition agreement, Lapid and Bennett currently have 61 members of the Knesset — the exact number needed for a majority.

Yes, but: Some of the coalition agreements are not yet final. They'll have to be presented to the Knesset before a vote is held on the government within 12 days.

  • In the interim, Netanyahu is expected to try to sabotage the new coalition and press several of its right-wing members to defect.
  • The latest: Lapid sent a letter to Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin — a Netanyahu crony — asking him to convene the Knesset as soon as possible in order to vote on the new government. Levin can stall the vote for at least a week

Under pressure from Netanyahu and his supporters, one member of Bennett’s party announced three weeks ago that he would vote against the government.

  • In recent hours, another member of Bennett’s party also said he was considering following suit — which would forced Lapid and Bennett to get at least one member of the Arab Joint List to vote in favor of the government or abstain.

Between the lines: Bennett, a tech entrepreneur and former Netanyahu protege, would become prime minister despite only winning seven seats in the election.

  • He was able to play the kingmaker role in the scramble to form a government, with both Netanyahu and Lapid needing his support.
  • While he is a conservative, particularly on Israel-Palestine issues, he will be constrained by the broad range of parties in the coalition and the fact that Lapid will have a veto on his policies.

What to watch: The last-minute snags in the negotiations over the past few days sent a clear signal of how fragile the government will be if it's formed and how much pressure Netanyahu and his supporters will be able to exert on its right-wing members.

  • Netanyahu, who is currently on trial for corruption, would be expected to become opposition leader.
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