By supporting Israel’s opposition leader on Sunday, radical-right herald Naftali Bennett paved the way for the formation of a “government of change” that could bring down Benjamin Netanyahu, the most enduring prime minister in the world. history of Israel.
Yair Lapid, a centrist at the head of the Israeli opposition, has only four deputies to rally to form a coalition capable of turning the page on the Netanyahu era.
His mandate, received in early May from President Reuven Rivlin after Mr. Netanyahu’s failure to form a coalition, runs until Wednesday, 11:59 p.m. (20:59 GMT).
“I am announcing that I will do everything to form a unity government with my friend Yair Lapid,” said Mr. Bennett on Sunday evening, who for several weeks had cultivated the mystery of his intentions.
“In these moments of truth, you have to know how to take responsibility,” he added in a televised speech. “Yaïr and I have our differences but we share the love of this country.”
“This government will be a danger to the security of the State of Israel. This is the scam of the century ”, retorted Mr. Netanyahu, also in a speech broadcast on television.
To form a government, Yaïr Lapid, at the head of the Yesh Atid party (“There is a future”), must gather the support of 61 deputies. With the support of the left, the center and two right-wing formations, he had gathered 51, until Mr. Bennett rallied.
The latter, at the head of the Yamina formation (“On the right”), won seven seats in the legislative elections of March 23, the fourth in two years. But one of its members had announced his refusal to collaborate with the anti-Netanyahu camp.
With these six additional supports, this bloc which calls for change after 12 years in power of Mr. Netanyahu without stopping, must still garner four supports and counts on the Israeli Arab parties, which have not yet clearly positioned themselves.
“Replace the Netanyahu regime”
After weeks marked by the 11-day war between ruling Palestinian Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the Hebrew state, tensions in East Jerusalem and clashes in Judeo-Arab towns in Israel, Yair Lapid revived on Friday his offer for a “government of national unity”, saying that he wanted a coalition that said “we are here together, our struggle is common, this country is the responsibility of all of us”.
Mr. Netanyahu had retaliated Sunday morning by calling on Mr. Bennett and Gideon Saar, leader of a small right-wing party, to “come, now, immediately”, to start talks for a government coalition, on the principle of a rotation at its head, starting with Mr. Saar, then MM. Netanyahu and Bennett.
Former Likud, Gideon Saar indicated on Twitter that he was not interested and remained faithful to his project: “to replace the Netanyahu regime”.
Almost 25 years ago to the day (May 29, 1996), Mr. Netanyahu defeated Labor Shimon Peres and became Prime Minister for three years. He returned to power in 2009 and has not left it since.
Tried for “corruption” in three cases, he is the first head of government to face criminal prosecution during his term in office.
“Are the dice cast? Until the last moment, a cloud of doubts will hang over any sign of revolution ”, noted Sunday the Yediot Aharonot, the best-selling title of the Israeli press, who expected to see Naftali Bennett join the anti-Netanyahu coalition.
Israel Hayom, a free daily newspaper marked on the right, denounced for its part an attempted “putsch” to end the Netanyahu era, supported by “representatives of Hamas”, an indirect attack against the Israeli Arab formation Raam (Islamist) by Mansour Abbas (4 deputies) who could support the Lapid coalition.
If the anti-Netanyahu camp fails to form a government, 61 lawmakers can ask the president to appoint a parliamentarian as prime minister.
Another scenario, the most feared by voters already called to vote four times in just over two years: a return to the polls.
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