/ 04 June 2021

Israel to try life without Netanyahu

Opponents of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu have reached a deal to form a unity government that is set to unseat the country’s longest-serving PM. Opposition leader Yair Lapid has cobbled together an unlikely coalition of parties from the left, right and centre of Israeli politics – with just 35 minutes to spare. And if it goes through Parliament, it will end Netanyahu’s 15 years at the top over the last 25 years.

So, Israel has seen 4 inconclusive elections in 2 years, leaving it without any political certainty or a budget. The last election in March saw Lapid’s Yesh Atid party come in 2nd to Netanyahu’s Likud party. Netanyahu was tasked with forming a new coalition government but failed. Lapid was invited to give it a go by the nation’s President Reuven Rivlin (whose position is kinda like our Governor-General), and yesterday he succeeded. The deal: Lapid and his main coalition partner Naftali Bennet will take turns at being PM. Bennet, who leads the right-wing Yamina party, will lead the government for the first 2 years. Lapid, a centrist, will serve the final 2. Their coalition would be made up of 8 small and medium parties. And for the first time in Israel’s history, it will include a party that represents the nation’s Arab minority.

Lapid isn’t celebrating just yet… The agreement needs to be approved by the Parliament by a vote, and the new government sworn in. But it won’t be handed over easily… Netanyahu overnight called on right-wing members of Parliament to block the “dangerous” and “left-wing” government from taking office. Political manoeuvring could see the vote delayed until 14 June, experts say. And Netanyahu’s party – which controls almost twice as many seats in Parliament as Lapid’s party – has promised to pile on the pressure. Many parties to the new coalition are said to be uneasy about what they’ve signed up to and have had to make compromises to push Netanyahu out of office. If it all falls apart, it could lead to yet another election. Whatever happens, things are going to be unsettled in Israel for a while. Whether it’s the recent conflict with Gaza, Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial, or the nation’s considerable diplomatic/security/economic challenges, it’s a situation to watch. #SquizShortcut

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