Brussels (Brussels Morning) Late Wednesday, just before the midnight deadline, the Israeli opposition clinched a crucial power-sharing deal that could see an end to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s divisive 12-year rule.
Opposition leader, centrist Yair Lapid, announced reaching a deal with right-wing leader Naftali Bennett, in which the two would take turns as prime ministers, starting with Bennett for the first two years, and followed by Lapid for the second two years, France24 reported.
The deal has yet to receive final confirmation of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, where the wide coalition of anti-Netanyahu parties will have to prove they have achieved the necessary majority. Netanyahu will likely do all in his power to try and chip away at the coalition in the lead up to the vote, which is expected early next week.
One of the tools at his disposal is the Speaker of Knesset, Yariv Levin, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, who could try to use his influence to delay the vote in the parliament, even though Lapid has called on him to convene the Knesset for the vote as soon as possible.
If confirmed, the new coalition would signal an end to more than two years of political instability in Israel, in the course of which four consecutive parliamentary elections failed to return a stable majority, keeping Netanyahu in power. If the deal falls through in the Knesset, Israel will have to hold yet another election, the country’s fifth in little more than two years.
The current anti-Netanyahu alliance features a diverse array of parties from all sides of the political spectrum, including three former Netanyahu allies which have fallen out with the PM. For the first time in Israeli history, an Arab party, the United Arab List, is participating as a partner in a proposed coalition.
Emerging as a kingmaker following the most recent elections, party leader Mansour Abbas joined the wider coalition with the goal of securing benefits for the country’s Arab minority. “This is the first time an Arab party is a partner in the formation of a government”, Abbas declared. “This agreement has a lot of things for the benefit of Arab society, and Israeli society in general”, he noted.