Israel’s Parliament to Vote on New Coalition Government on Sunday

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a ceremony to show appreciation to the health sector for their contribution to the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Jerusalem June 6, 2021. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

The immediate political future of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is set to be decided on Sunday, after the speaker of Israel’s Parliament said that lawmakers would hold a vote of confidence in a new coalition government that afternoon.

If the fragile coalition can hold together until then, it will be the first time in 12 years that the country will be led by someone other than Mr. Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.

The announcement, by the Parliament speaker, Yariv Levin, on Tuesday, clears the way for Mr. Netanyahu to be replaced by Naftali Bennett, a former high-tech entrepreneur and settler leader who opposes a Palestinian state and believes Israel should annex much of the occupied West Bank.

If confirmed by Parliament, Mr. Bennett will lead an ideologically varied alliance that ranges from the far left to the hard right and includes — for the first time in Israeli history — an independent Arab party.

The fragility of the alliance and its wafer-thin majority — if no one drops out, it will command 61 of Parliament’s 120 seats — have left many wondering whether it will last until the vote, let alone its full four-year term. If the coalition lasts until 2023, Mr. Bennett has agreed to cede the premiership to Yair Lapid, a centrist former television host.

Mr. Netanyahu and his party, Likud, have pledged to do all they can to peel off wavering hard-right members of the coalition before the confidence vote.

In a speech reminiscent of President Trump’s rhetoric after the 2020 United States election, Mr. Netanyahu accused Mr. Bennett’s alliance on Sunday of subverting the will of the people.

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SOURCE: The New York Times, Patrick Kingsley

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