In Israel, the opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu want to forge a government coalition. Israel has elected a new parliament four times in the past two years, each time without clear majorities. Netanyahu, as chairman of the strongest party, Likud, tried to form a government again after the last election on March 23, but failed.
The order to form a government then went to the opposition leader Jair Lapid. His liberal party Yesh Atid was the second largest party in the parliamentary elections on March 23, after the national conservative Likud of Netanyahu. The deadline ends on Wednesday.
Alliance aims to prevent Netanyahu
The head of the ultra-nationalist Jamina party, Naftali Bennett, said on television on Sunday evening that he was in favor of an alliance of right-wing, moderate and left-wing parties with the liberal Jair Lapid. The aim is to prevent Netanyahu from coming to power again:
“Therefore I announce that I will use all my energy to form a unity government together with my friend Jair Lapid. So that we can free the state together from this endless loop and bring Israel back on the right track.” Naftali Bennett
From the previous opposition leader Jair Lapid, whom Bennett now calls his friend, and his future party, Bennett and his settler-friendly right-wing religious Jamina party separates quite a lot in terms of content. With the national-conservative Likud party, the political intersections for Jamina are much greater, but the content of this Israeli government formation is secondary.
“There is no right-wing government”
Naftali Bennett did not decide against the Likud, but against its chairman and head of government Benjamin Netanyahu. He had campaigned intensively for Bennett, but would not have had a majority with his party either. Bennett remembered that now.
He said there was someone who said that a right-wing government was “within your grasp and that it would be us who would prevent it from being formed. That is an absolute lie.” There is no right-wing government. Four ballots have shown everyone that there is no right-wing government with Netanyahu at its head. “Either there will be a fifth ballot or a unity government.”
Netanyahu responds with polemics
Benjamin Netanyahu sharply attacked Naftali Bennett after his announcement. Netanyahu said he wanted to become prime minister at all costs.
“Naftali, your values are not even the weight of a feather. If it had been clear what your plans are now, no one in this country would have chosen you. Perhaps except you.” Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister
Once again, Netanyahu described a possible coalition against him as a left government, although the so-called anti-Netanyahu bloc includes several right-wing parties. The alliance that Jair Lapid is trying to forge spans the entire political spectrum of Israel.
Coalition relies on Arab Israelis
Lapid’s coalition would probably also need the support of one or more parties belonging to the Arab minority. In terms of content, a lot separates the potential partners. What they have in common is the desire Netanyahu to replace the prime minister on charges of corruption.
According to media reports, Jair Lapid and Naftali Bennett have agreed on a rotation at the top of the government. Bennett would therefore start as Prime Minister and after two years hand over the office to Jair Lapid, who would be Foreign Minister by then. However, the relevant coalition agreements have only been signed with some of the partners.
Not yet dry
Difficult negotiations lie ahead of Jair Lapid. His deadline to form a government expires at midnight on Wednesday. With the announcement of Naftali Bennett’s Jamina party to join the alliance, however, Lapid has cleared an important hurdle. If he succeeds in forging a coalition, Benjamin Netanyahu, who last ruled for twelve years without interruption, would have to join the opposition with his Likud party.