On May 30th, Israeli “far-right” politician Naftali Bennett announced a coalition with opposition leader Yair Lapid.
They announced that they will form a government excluding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“It’s my intention to do my utmost in order to form a national unity government along with my friend Yair Lapid, so that, God willing, together we can save the country from a tailspin and return Israel to its course,” said Bennett, a former settler leader and religious nationalist, in a televised address.
They agreed that Bennett would serve first as prime minister until September 2023, after which Lapid would take over until the term ends in November 2025.
Final coalition deals will be signed by the end of May 31st and submitted to the Knesset. The swearing-in ceremony could take place as early as Wednesday, but legally, once Lapid tells President Reuven Rivlin that he could form a government, he has a week to bring the government to a vote of confidence in the Knesset.
Netanyahu accused Bennett of rejecting a right-wing government and instead seeking to become prime minister of a “government of the Left.”
“Naftali Bennett is running to the Left,” Netanyahu said. “This goes against all their principles and promises and everything necessary to guarantee the future of our state.”
Netanyahu noted that during Operation Guardian of the Walls, Bennett and his right-hand-man, member of Israeli parliament Ayelet Shaked, ruled out a government of change. He warned that Bennett and Shaked were endangering the country, the land of Israel and the IDF.
“Either it was a show or they have no principles,” he said.
For Netanyahu who is facing several indictments against him for corruption this could prove detrimental, and he is attempting teeth and claw to hold onto power.
“He’s committed the scam of the century,” Netanyahu said of his former ally and senior aide, accusing him of abandoning rightwing voters. He called the proposed coalition government “a danger to Israel’s security and future”.
Bennett is known for his wish annex most of the occupied West Bank, and is usually much closer ideologically to Netanyahu than Lapid, a former TV news anchor popular with the country’s secular middle class.
“We need a government that will reflect the fact that we don’t hate one another. A government in which left, right and centre will work together to tackle the economic and security challenges we face,” Lapid said.