Israel opposition parties agree coalition to oust PM Benjamin Netanyahu

30 May 2021, 20:18

Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year spell as prime minister could be in peril
Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year spell as prime minister could be in peril. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Opposition parties in Israel have agreed to form a coalition that would bring an end to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's 12 years in power.

A key political rival announced on Sunday that he would "do everything to form a national unity government" with the leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party, Yair Lapid.

Naftali Bennett, the leader of the ultra-nationalist New Right party, said he would join a diverse collection of left and right-wing opponents to topple Mr Netanyahu's administration.

Mr Lapid, the current leader of the opposition, has until Wednesday to confirm whether his efforts to form a coalition have been successful.

However, Mr Netanyahu said the proposal would "weaken Israel" and could endanger the security of the country.

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The Israeli PM, who is on trial for fraud, failed to win a decisive majority during a general election in March - the country's fourth since 2019 - meaning a coalition would be necessary to prevent another vote.

Under the terms of the deal, Messrs Lapid and Bennett are expected to each serve two years as prime minister on rotation.

Speaking during a televised address, the ultra-nationalist leader stated that he intended to "do my utmost in order to form a national unity government along with my friend Yair Lapid, so that, God willing, together we can save the country from a tailspin and return Israel to its course".

But the prime minister accused Mr Bennett of carrying out "the fraud of the century" after previously promising not to form a coalition with Mr Lapid - a former finance minister whose party came second to Mr Netanyahu's right-wing Likud at the previous election.

The PM offered to form a coalition with the ultranationalists and another party on Saturday night, however this was swiftly rejected.