Israeli opposition politicians determined to oust Benjamin Netanyahu from office rush to establish a government as the country’s longest-serving prime minister gathered allies for an emergency meeting to strategize on how to bring down the fragile coalition.
One day after opposition leader Yair Lapid announced that he and Naftali Bennett, his far-right partner and pending prime minister, could form a “government of change,” the race began to vote in the parliament and be sworn in. on.
The process could take two weeks or more, all while the coalition remains vulnerable to collapse. It is made up of a mix of staunch ideological rivals, including Jewish religious nationalists and Arab Islamists, who are united only by a shared desire to topple Netanyahu.
On Thursday, the opposition was fighting for the chairman of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, to schedule a vote of confidence in the proposed government. However, the speaker, Yariv Levin, is a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party and has powers to delay, giving his boss more time to maneuver.
In his first comments since Lapid announced the proposed coalition, Netanyahu tweeted Thursday morning that all right-wing legislators “must oppose this dangerous left-wing government.” He accused the Lapid-Bennett administration of having “sold out” to the country’s Arab minority politicians.
The opposition coalition had a very slim 61-seat seat margin in the 120-seat Knesset, meaning the cold feet of a single lawmaker could topple it.
A member of Bennett’s Yamina party had already defected earlier this week, following a protest among the far-right that Bennett would join “left” parties and Arab lawmakers, politicians he had long mocked. its nationalist base.
In days of protests outside Bennett’s home, former supporters have called him a traitor. Israel’s national intelligence service, the Shin Bet, said Thursday that it had provided Bennett with bodyguards.
Meanwhile, voices from Netanyahu’s party increased the pressure. Gilad Sharon, the son of the late Likud Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, accused Bennett on Thursday of “selling off his principles, which have proven to be very flexible, for the sake of a job.”
For the first time in Israel, where about a fifth of the population are Palestinian citizens, a small party of Islamists signed up to join the government. The leader of the United Arab List, Mansour Abbas, is seen as a pragmatist. He hopes to secure billions of shekels in investments for the minority and freeze home demolitions in Arab communities.
Abbas told Army Radio on Thursday that he expected other Arab lawmakers who want Netanyahu to leave, but who have also refused to support Bennett, to back the proposed government to bolster their slim majority.
“Efforts are being made to expand the circle of support for the coalition and the government … then we will have more of a safety net for the coalition,” he said.
Netanyahu, who has held a senior position for a total of 15 years since 1996, gathered allies at his residence. He faces political danger, but also potential threats to his freedom.
The 71-year-old is fighting three corruption cases, on charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust, which he denies. If he enters the opposition, he may be denied parliamentary immunity, and the new government could pass legislation to ban him from office in the future.
Abbas said Netanyahu had been calling him on Wednesday before he signed the coalition agreement in hopes of changing his mind. Abbas said: “I think it is natural that there are conversations and pressure in politics.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism