Israeli politicians fighting veteran Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are running against the clock on the final day of talks to form a governing coalition of bitter ideological rivals.
They have one minute before midnight on Wednesday (20:59 GMT) to end the administration that will end the 12-year rule of Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.
According to the Israeli “12” TV channel late Tuesday evening, Lapid intends to leave at 11 o’clock on Wednesday morning. Announced at 00 (GMT 08:00) that it could form a government.
The Times of Israel reports that Lapid’s goal is to vote on the appointment of the Knesset Speaker on June 9 to take the oath of office in the new coalition.
To reach a 61-seat majority in the 120-seat Knesset, Lapid and Bennett are unlikely to form an alliance with other left-right parties, which will likely need the support of parties representing Israeli Palestinians.
This will lead to a government that is mired in deep ideological divisions over issues such as the Israeli-occupied Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the role of religion in politics.
The leader of the “Esh Atid” party Lapid was instructed to form a government by President Reuven Rivlin after Netanyahu failed to win a majority again after the fourth Israeli election in the last two years.
Lapid reportedly agreed to allow Bennett, the leader of the Yamina party, to serve as a rotating prime minister in a power-sharing deal for the first time.
On Wednesday, the Knesset will elect the next president of the country, mainly a figure who is called to serve as the moral compass of the nation, to promote unity.
Israel’s latest political turmoil adds to Netanyahu’s plight, which he faces in court for allegations of fraud, bribery and breach of trust during his tenure, which he denies.
It follows the latest outbreak of battles In the besieged Gaza Strip by Israeli “Palestinian militant groups”, which ended on May 21 after 11 days of deadly violence under the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.
At least 253 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli bombings in Gaza. At least 12 people have been killed by rockets fired by militant groups in Gaza, Israel.
Netanyahu, who served three years in the 1990s, warned on Sunday of a “dangerous left-wing government for the state of Israel.”
The prime minister, who heads the right-wing Likud party, which has developed a reputation as a stubborn political operator, has sought to undermine the new bloc.
Likud’s lawyers tried to thwart the emerging coalition by challenging Bennett’s right to run for prime minister, given that Lapid was accused of forming a government.
But the legal adviser to the President of Israel failed the challengeAt the same time, opponents of a possible alternative government accused Bennett and his right-wing colleagues of betraying their constituents.
Both Lapid and Bennett spokesmen confirmed to AFP that both had received additional security protections.
Lapid said on Monday that the obstacles to forming a coalition remain, but added: “This is our first test to see if we can find smart compromises in the coming days to achieve a greater goal.”
To build an alliance against Netanyahu, Lapid had to sign individual agreements with seven parties, whose members would then vote in parliament to form a coalition.
These include Gideon Saari, a former Netanyahu ally, and Avigdor Lieberman, a right-wing secular nationalist who is a supporter of Yisrael Beitenu’s pro-settlement party.
He was joined by Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party, the historically powerful center-left Labor Party and the traitorous Meretz party.
Support for the Palestinian Party
If these parties are signed, the developing bloc will need the support of these four legislators.
To overcome the threshold, Lapid relies on parties representing Israeli Palestinians.
Entering a hotel for talks near Tel Aviv on Tuesday, the leader of the United Arab Emirates, Mansour Abbas, who has four seats, said his party would join the coalition, according to Israeli media.
Abas’s party, which split from the United List coalition, which consists mainly of Palestinian parties, is focused on finalizing agreements with Yamina’s second-in-command, Ayelet Shaked, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
“In the next government, Shaked is expected to be appointed interior minister. Abbas hopes to appoint a member of parliament from his party,” Haaretz reported.
Abbas has announced any agreement that would improve the living conditions of Israeli Palestinians, who make up about 20 percent of Israel’s population.
Political analyst Afif Abu Much said on Tuesday that Abbas would not run for minister but wanted to chair two parliamentary committees – the budgets of the Palestinian communities.
He also aimed to repeal a law tightening sanctions on illegal construction that appears to be disproportionately affecting the Palestinian community.
Abbas told reporters on Tuesday that the talks seemed to be going in a “good direction”, but he said: “Nothing is over until it is over.”
Meanwhile, one of the three parties in the Joint List coalition, Hadash, said on Tuesday that its three lawmakers would vote against the proposed government, according to Israeli media.
Another party on the joint list, Ballad, which has only one member in the Knesset, also said it would vote against the government, Haaretz reported.
Ahmad Tibi Ta’al, the third member of the Joint List with two legislators, has not yet made a decision.
If Lapid fails to win a majority, և lawmakers fail to agree on another candidate for prime minister, the Israelis may return to the polls.