Israel’s Lapid Reaches Deal to Form New Government, Set to Unseat Netanyahu

By Reuters
June 2, 2021Middle East
Israel’s Lapid Reaches Deal to Form New Government, Set to Unseat Netanyahu
Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, delivers a statement to the press before the party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem, on May 31, 2021. (Debbie Hill/Pool via Reuters)

JERUSALEM—Israel’s opposition leader moved closer to unseating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday when he officially informed the country’s president that he has reached agreements with political allies to form a new government.

About 30 minutes before a midnight deadline, Yair Lapid, according to a party statement, told President Reuven Rivlin in an email:

“I am honored to inform you that I have succeeded in forming a government.” Rivlin, attending Israel’s soccer cup final at the time, congratulated Lapid by phone, according to his office.

Lapid’s main partner is Naftali Bennett, who would serve as premier first under a rotation between the two men with Lapid taking over after about two years.

Naftali Bennett speaks
Yemina party leader Naftali Bennett speaks to the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem, on May 30, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Pool via AP)

Their coalition government would comprise a patchwork of small and medium parties from across the political spectrum, including for the first time in Israel’s history a party that represents Israel’s 21 percent Arab minority.

But the new government, which would command a razor-thin majority in parliament, was only expected to be sworn in about 10 days from now, leaving slight room for Netanyahu’s camp to try and abort it by turning lawmakers over to their side and vote against it. Israeli political analysts widely expected Netanyahu to try every possible political maneuver to make this happen.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a political statement in the Knesset, in Jerusalem, Israel, on May 30, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Lapid was given the task of forming a governing coalition after Netanyahu failed to do so in the wake of a March 23 election.

“This government will work for all Israel’s citizens, those who voted for it and those who did not. It will respect its opponents and do all it can to unites and connect all parts of Israeli society,” Lapid said on Twitter.

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