Israeli parties in final sprint to build anti-Netanyahu coalition - GulfToday

Israeli parties in final sprint to build anti-Netanyahu coalition


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during an event. File photo

Israeli politicians battling to unseat veteran Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were racing against the clock Tuesday in talks to build a "change" coalition of bitter ideological rivals.

They have until a minute before midnight (2059 GMT) Wednesday to cobble together an administration that would end 12 straight years of rule by the hawkish heavyweight, Israel's longest-ruling premier.

The high-stakes push is led by former TV presenter Yair Lapid, a secular centrist, who on Sunday won the crucial support of right-wing religious nationalist Naftali Bennett, a tech multi-millionaire.


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"The coalition negotiation team sat all night and made progress toward creating a unity government," a Bennett spokesman said in a statement, adding that further talks were scheduled for the afternoon.

But to reach a 61-seat majority in the 120-seat Knesset, their unlikely alliance would also have to include other left and right-wing parties -- and would probably need the support of Arab-Israeli politicians.

That would result in a government riven by deep ideological differences on flashpoint issues such as Jewish settlements in the Israel-occupied West Bank and the role of religion in politics.

Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid party, was tasked with forming a government by President Reuven Rivlin after Netanyahu again failed to win a majority following Israel's fourth inconclusive election in less than two years.

Lapid has reportedly agreed to allow Bennett, who heads the Yamina party, to serve first as a rotating prime minister in a power-sharing agreement, before taking over half way through their term.

Agence France-Presse

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