Yair Lapid (L), Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and Naftali Bennett (R
Yair Lapid (L), Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and Naftali Bennett (R)

Israeli opposition unites to oust Netanyahu


Likud, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ‘s party on Tuesday (June 1) challenged the legality of a bid by a rival rightist to head a new government, but the last-gasp attempt at extending his leadership was rejected by President Reuven Rivlin, Reuters reported.

Head of the small religious and nationalist Yamina party, Naftali Bennett, Netanyahu’s former defence minister, announced on Sunday (May 30) he would form a coalition with centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party, serving as its premier first under a rotation deal. The Yesh Atid party came second to Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud at the last election.

“In the last two years, Israel has been in a circle of elections, internal fighting with no leadership,” Bennett said Sunday in a televised announcement. “This will not happen again. We can stop this and take control. There is no option for a right-wing government lead by Netanyahu — it’s either a change government or new elections.”

“No one believes Netanyahu anymore,” Bennett added. “In this critical moment, I’m saying I intend to form a national unity government with Lapid.”

Netanyahu’s opponents have until Wednesday midnight (2200 GMT) to form a government,
after Netanyahu failed to do so in the wake of a close election on March 23. If they are successful, it would bring to an end the rule of the country’s longest-serving prime minister. Netanyahu, 71, has been at the helm since 2009.

The Bennett-Lapid coalition will be comprised of seven parties, with the biggest (that of Lapid) only getting 18 out of 120 seats in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.The coalition will bring together factions from the right, the left and the centre of Israeli politics and doubts run high as to whether this government will last for long.

The new coalition comes just days after the cease-fire that ended an 11-day war between Israelis and Palestinians that left dozens of people dead.

With reporting by Reuters, Times of Israel, BBC