Benjamin Netanyahu latest: Israel opposition agree to coalition – what this means for PM
Israel: Netanyahu 'good at creating havoc' says expert
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Opposition leader Yair Lapid informed President Reuven Rivlin late on Wednesday that he had struck a power-sharing deal with a broad group of right, centre and left-wing parties following the recent Israel elections. Under the deal, Mr Lapid has agreed that the right-wing leader of the much smaller Yamina party, Naftali Bennett, will serve as Prime Minister for the first two years before passing on the leadership to himself. After days of negotiations, Mr Lapid announced he had the support of a majority opposition less than one hour before the midnight deadline.
Speaking to the President, the new coalition co-leader and former journalist turned centre politician, said: “I am honoured to inform you that I have succeeded in forming a government.
“I commit to you Mr President, that this government will work to serve all the citizens of Israel including those who aren’t members of it, will respect those who oppose it, and do everything in its power to unite all parts of Israeli society.
“The Government will do everything it can to unite every part of Israeli society.”
So far, the coalition’s only real unity appears to come in wanting to remove Mr Netanyahu from his position of power.
What does this mean for Netanyahu?
The formation of a ‘change government’ should, in theory, bring an end to Mr Netanyahu’s 15-years in power, as well as close a two-year chapter of political stagnation with four inconclusive elections – but it may not be so easy.
Mr Netanyahu – who became the PM in 2009, having previously served in the role from 1996 to 1999 – has been criticised and written off many times before, only to find new ways of holding on to power.
Just two weeks ago, Mr Netanyahu was hailing himself as the defender of the nation as another wave of violence erupted between Israel and Palestine.
Danny Danon, Mr Netanyahu’s former ambassador to the United Nations (UN), said he isn’t writing him off just yet.
He said: “I will be cautious and I will not start to sum up his political career, we have seen in the past that he pulls magic out of his sleeve when people started to sum up his career.
“But anyone will agree with me that he is one of the greatest leaders in Israel’s history.”
Mr Danon added: “I think we have to be patient, we have to wait until the last minute, until the last vote can be counted in the parliament.
“Only then when the new government will be sworn, we can trusty they can still speak about a new era in our politics.”
A vote of no-confidence in Mr Netanyahu’s government is expected to take place, but may not do so until June 15.
This near two-week window gives Mr Netanyahu and his allies in government a narrow window to try and lure members of the coalition away, chipping at the majority bit by bit.
One source close to the negotiations said: “We are in for days of hell.”
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Mr Netanyahu has been desperately attempting to scupper his opponents’ deal, which he recognises could threaten not only his political career but his freedom, too.
The 71-year-old leader is currently battling three corruption cases on the charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust – all of which Mr Netanyahu denies, saying, without evidence, that he is the victim of a deep state conspiracy against him.
If he were to go into opposition, he could be denied parliamentary immunity and the new government could very easily pass legislating banning him from office.
Lawyers for Mr Netanyahu’s Likud Party had already tried hard to stop the emerging coalition this week by stating Mr Bennett’s right to serve as Prime Minister was illegal.
However, President Rivlin knocked down the challenge before it could gain any real momentum.
Mr Netanyahu is less than happy about the formation of the coalition, citing the creation of a “dangerous, left wing government” that is the “fraud of the century”.
If Mr Netanyahu is to lose his grip on power at the hands of the coalition, it will mark a new, perhaps more stable and inclusive, political era in Israel’s history.
This coalition is the first in Israel’s history to include an Arab-Israel party, a crucial detail if the Palestine-Israel conflict is to stabilise itself any time soon.
However, while the easing of tensions is a definite possibility, this Government likely won’t be the one that brings an end to the conflict altogether, as Mr Bennett opposes Palestinian statehood alongside other members of the coalition.
Likewise, the left-wing and Arab parties will likely block any attempt to annex parts of the West Bank.
One thing remains unclear – could this coalition be the one that brings a close to Mr Netanyahu’s premiership?
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