Israel's Netanyahu in last-ditch bid to save premiership

Midnight deadline approaches for Israeli coalition to unite and challenge Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's opponents announced they have reached a deal to form a new governing coalition, paving the way for the ouster of the longtime Israeli leader.

Netanyahu, facing the prospect of an end to his 12-year run as premier, said on Twitter "all legislators elected by votes from the right must oppose this unsafe left-wing government", and he targeted historic Arab participation in the coalition.

It's the first time Netanyahu, who heads the right-wing Likud party, has publicly pushed back after centrist politician Yair Lapid on Wednesday announced he had formed a patchwork coalition that included left-wing parties, far right Israel nationalist parties - and a Palestinian party.

Yair Lapid, the leader of the largest opposition party Yesh Atid, made the announcement on Wednesday - about 30 minutes before the deadline for him to form a majority coalition. It will be led by Bennett as prime minister for two years, before Lapid takes over for the remainder of the term.

In particular, he cast right-wing participants in the eight-party coalition - including Naftali Bennett, an observant Jew and former settler leader in line to replace Netanyahu - as betrayers of their own hard-line constituents.

If approved by parliament, they could unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Israelis have gone to the polls four times over the past two years, as election after election failed to break the political deadlock.

Netanyahu, who has yet to respond to Lapid's announcement, controls 30 seats in the 120-member parliament, nearly twice as many as Lapid's Yesh Atid party, and he is allied with at least three other religious and nationalist parties.

But Shaked, a prominent voice in Israel's hard-line right wing, has expressed misgivings about joining forces with the dovish members of the emerging coalition.

Not much unites the parties other than their desire to oust Netanyahu, and the parties differ in their stances on some of the country's most pressing issues, especially relations with the Palestinians.

The new coalition would include Ra'am, an Arab party headed by Mansour Abbas, marking the first time in Israel's history a party that represents Israel's 21 percent Arabic minority is part of a coalition.

This agreement has a lot of things for the benefit of Arab society, and Israeli society in general.

Rivlin tweeted his congratulations to Lapid on forming a coalition, voicing his expectation for the Knesset to "convene as soon as possible to ratify the government, as required".

Israel's latest political turmoil adds to the woes of Netanyahu, who is on trial for criminal charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust while in office ― accusations he denies.

An emergency government formed previous year between Netanyahu and former military chief Benny Gantz to battle the coronavirus pandemic quickly became mired in political bickering and collapsed in December.

Several of the bloc's remaining members said they would vote to oppose a government headed by Bennett. This step might not happen until Monday, which means the vote could be held as late as June 14.

We must defend Israel's global status and its good reputation in the family of nations, fight antisemitism and hatred of Israel, and preserve the pillars of our democracy. His father, Chaim Herzog, was Israel's ambassador to the United Nations before being elected president. His grandfather was the country's first chief rabbi. Peretz, 67, is a prominent educator and lecturer who is well known because she lost two sons in battle during their military service.

Herzog is set to take office next month and could play a role in Israeli politics down the road.

If the country is forced into another vote, Herzog could help determine who becomes prime minister.

The centerpiece of the prime minister's strategy will be to weaponize the loyalties of religious hard-liners who backed Bennett and similarly minded candidates at the ballot box without expecting them to ally with the likes of Lapid.

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