A group of Israeli political parties are on the verge of a deal that would remove Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and replace him with an even more far-right leader, The New York Times reports.
After Netanyahu and his opposition were unable to form a ruling coalition following four elections in two years, the centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid is on the verge of a power-sharing deal with ultranationalist former Netanyahu ally Naftali Bennett. Under the deal, Bennett, a former settler leader who rejects the concept of a Palestinian state and has embraced the religious right, would be the next prime minister.
“I will work with all my power to form a national unity government together with my friend Yair Lapid,” Bennett said Sunday. “If we succeed, we will be doing something huge for the state of Israel.”
Ceasefire led to opposition:
The announcement came after Bennett lashed out over a ceasefire agreement Netanyahu reached with Hamas amid growing international pressure.
Though the fighting raised Netanyahu’s approval ratings and appeared to increase his chances of holding on to power, Bennett and other right-wingers have soured on the longtime prime minister since the fighting stopped.
“This is the most complex decision I’ve made in my life, but I am at peace with it,” Bennett said.
Any formal deal would have to be presented to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin by Wednesday and then approved by the Knesset.
Under the deal, Bennett would serve as PM through 2023 and then swap roles with Lapid.
Netanyahu not going away:
A defiant Netanyahu is trying to snatch rogue right-wing lawmakers from the coalition to deny them enough votes to form a new government.
“This is not unity, healing or democracy,” Netanyahu said Sunday. “This is an opportunistic government. A government of capitulation, a government of fraud, a government of inertia. A government like this must not be formed.”
Even if he is unseated, Netanyahu is expected to remain a force in Israeli politics after leading the country for over a decade.
He also faces a public corruption trial after being charged with multiple bribery counts.