Jun 8, 2021 - World

Netanyahu is out if new government survives confidence vote on Sunday

Netanyahu. Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty

The incoming Israeli government will be sworn in on Sunday if it survives a confidence vote, outgoing parliamentary speaker Yariv Levin said in a statement on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies, including Levin, are trying to thwart the formation of the new government, which would see right-wing Naftali Bennett replace Netanyahu as prime minister in an alliance with Yair Lapid, the centrist opposition leader.

Between the lines: Bennett and Lapid need to submit their final coalition agreement 24 hours before a vote in Israel's parliament, the Knesset. But they can't do so on a Saturday, as Levin was well-aware, meaning they'll have to submit the agreement two days before the vote.

  • That gives Netanyahu's Likud party more time to scrutinize and criticize the agreement in hopes of convincing right-wing members of the new coalition to abandon it.
  • Levin was caught on a hot mic on Monday saying he would schedule the vote when it would best suit the Likud rather than hold it as soon as possible, as is the tradition.

The big picture: Bennett, a former tech executive and Netanyahu protege, would initially become prime minister under the deal despite leading a small party, because it would have been impossible for either Netanyahu or Lapid to reach a majority without him. Lapid would then rotate into the job after two years.

The state of play: Bennett and Lapid appear to currently have the narrowest possible majority, with six out of the seven members from Bennett's party expected to vote in favor.

  • Netanyahu has been dialing up the pressure on members of Bennett's party, who are much closer to him ideologically than to their new coalition partners. Netanyahu's supporters have demonstrated in front of their houses, and some of Bennett's allies have received death threats.
  • The director of Israel's Shin Bet domestic security service warned on Saturday that the “serious radicalization in incitement and discourse on social media" could lead to a Jan. 6-style attack in Israel to prevent a peaceful transition of power.

What’s next: Lapid and Bennett now have until Friday to smooth out any remaining differences over their coalition agreement. Netanyahu has until Sunday to sabotage it.

  • If he can't, Israel will have a new prime minister for the first time in 12 years.

Go deeper: Netanyahu claims Bennett won't stand up to Biden

Go deeper