Monday, 14 June, 2021

Israel's Lapid clinches deals to unseat Netanyahu -radio

New Hope head Gideon Sa’ar arrives for negotiations to form a unity government at Kfar Maccabiah New Hope head Gideon Sa’ar arrives for negotiations to form a unity government at Kfar Maccabiah
Deanna Wagner | 04 June, 2021, 23:24

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's opponents raced against the clock to finalize a coalition government that would end his 12-year rule ahead of a deadline at midnight Wednesday.

On paper, the prospective coalition commands a slender majority in parliament but a confidence vote is not expected for several days, giving Netanyahu time to woo potential defectors among the unlikely bedfellows ranged against him.

Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out on Thursday at a new cross-party coalition that is poised to dethrone him, as he urged all right-wingers to oppose a government-in-waiting led by Naftali Bennett.

The new coalition would see the religious nationalist Naftali Bennett serve as prime minister for two years before Mr Lapid, a secular centrist, would take the helm.

Netanyahu, in power for the past 12 years, has sought to discredit Bennett and other rightists negotiating with Lapid, saying they were endangering Israel's security.

In an all-tempered post on Twitter, Mr Netanyahu said that "all legislators elected by votes from the right must oppose this risky left-wing government".

In a late-night call to President Reuven Rivlin, Lapid said an agreement had been reached and a coalition formed.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz received a pledge of U.S. support for whoever is Israel's next leader Thursday as he met with top officials in Washington while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was facing ouster back home.

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Should they fail, Israel will face its fifth election in just over two years.

Lapid, who heads the secular centrist party Yesh Atid, last Sunday won the crucial support of Bennett, head of the Yamina "Rightward" party.

But Shaked, a prominent voice in Israel's hard-line right wing, has expressed misgivings about joining forces with the dovish members of the emerging coalition.

If Lapid misses Wednesday's deadline - marking the end of a 28-day presidential mandate to put together a coalition - parliament will have three weeks to agree on a new candidate.

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But Russia's support for Minsk means the UN Security Council is unlikely to agree a collective statement. The Kremlin said on Wednesday there was no reason to doubt statements made by the Belarusian leader.

Netanyahu and his political allies have been pressing lawmakers in Yamina and New Hope not to form a government with Lapid, and that pressure is expected to increase. "It will do everything to unite Israeli society", he said.

Israel's latest political drama adds to the woes of Netanyahu, who is on trial for criminal charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust while in office - accusations he denies.

In a sign of progress, Lapid announced a coalition deal with the United Arab List, a small Islamist party whose support is key to securing a coalition.

An emergency government formed past year between Netanyahu and former military chief Benny Gantz to battle the coronavirus pandemic quickly became mired in political bickering and collapsed in December.

Amid the political deadlock, parliament on Wednesday elected Isaac Herzog, a veteran politician and the scion of a prominent Israeli family, as the country's next president.

We must defend Israel's worldwide status and its good reputation in the family of nations, fight antisemitism and hatred of Israel, and preserve the pillars of our democracy.

His uncle, Abba Eban, was Israel's first foreign minister and ambassador to the United Nations and United States.

He defeated challenger Miriam Peretz by a margin of 87-26.

The first candidate is Myriam Peretz, 67, a settler and former headmistress widely known as "the mother of sons" after she lost two of her six children while officers in the Israeli army.

Herzog is set to take office next month and could play a role in Israeli politics down the road.

"The situation in which eight medium and small parties are forming a coalition has never happened before".

If the country is forced into another vote, Herzog could help determine who becomes prime minister.

Mr Caspit said Mr Netanyahu could try to emulate his ally, former US president Donald Trump, who gave an incendiary address to supporters before they launched a deadly raid on the US Capitol.