Israeli opposition leaders have agreed to form a government that could end Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year reign as prime minister.
In: coalition, which spans the political spectrum from the far-left Meretz party to the extremist nationalist Yamina, anchored by centrist Yesh Atid, on Wednesday struck a deal after days of heated negotiations.
The so-called change of government will be supported by the Islamist party Ra’am, which has been playing a tie-breaker after four elections in two years, but failed to produce a clear result. This is only the second time in the history of Israel that an Arab party has played a role in the Zionist government, the first time someone has officially joined the coalition.
This different grouping shares one common goal. The removal of Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, who is currently on trial for corruption. Netanyahu denies all allegations.
“This government will work to serve all Israeli citizens, including those who are not members of it, will respect those who oppose it, and will do everything possible to unite all sections of Israeli society,” said Yair Lapid. Yesh Atid wrote to the President.
Lawmakers will now vote for the government in about 10 days. Analysts warn that the coalition, which has a majority of 61 seats out of 120, may not yet be able to secure enough votes. If they fail, Israel will have a fifth election in more than two years.
If that happens, the next prime minister will be Naftali Bennett, a tech millionaire far more right-wing than Netanyahu, who controls just six seats in the 120-member Knesset.
Bennett, 49, is a former Netanyahu sponsor who served as his chief of staff and then as defense minister. He is ideologically opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state, having previously clashed with Netanyahu for not being coming down stronger on Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip.
He lobbied in Israel to annex the occupied West Bank, and advocated for the expansion of Jewish settlements, which most of the international community considers illegal.
In two years, he will step down, և Lapid, the former TV presenter who heads the middle-class Yesh Atid, will take over as prime minister.
The negotiations took place at a time when Bennett’s party, Yamina, was negotiating over the oversight of a commission of judges. His political colleague, Ayllet Shaked, has vowed to continue his “legal revolution” aimed at reducing the Supreme Court’s influence by replacing Labor leader Merav Michael in the Judiciary Appointments Commission.
Ram’s support depends on the material benefits of Israel’s Muslim minority community, including more money for police, hospital and other civic facilities. According to Israeli media reports, Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas has called for changes to the law, which provides for imprisonment for violating construction permits, an issue that has disproportionately affected Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, according to human rights groups.