Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Israel’s Lapid calls in Gantz, moves closer to Netanyahu’s output

JERUSALEM – Israel’s opposition leader on Wednesday approached the ouster of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and formed a new government after agreeing on terms with several parties, including one led by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, a spokesman said. said.

During a twelve-year career in the top office, Netanyahu has been an often polarizing figure abroad. An end to his term in office may provide a postponement of domestic political unrest, but major shifts in Israel’s foreign policy seem less likely to the credible American ally.

Yair Lapid, who has the task of forming the next governing coalition after conservative Netanyahu failed to do so after a unconvincing election on March 23, has until midnight Wednesday to present a final lead.

Lapid, a 57-year-old former TV host and writer, has not yet reached an agreement with his main partner, nationalist Naftali Bennett, who would first serve as prime minister under a proposed rotation between the two men.

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Yair Lapid makes a statement to the press before the party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem, Israel, on May 31, 2021. (Debbie Hill / Pool via Reuters)

Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and Gantz’s Blue and White said in a joint statement that they “agreed on the outlines of the government and core issues regarding the strengthening of democracy and Israeli society.”

Gantz would remain defense minister in the new cabinet, the parties said.

First Arab Party in Government?

Netanyahu, 71, sought to discredit Bennett and two other lawmakers negotiating with Lapid, saying they endangered Israel’s security.

Israel’s longest-serving leader, who was first elected prime minister a quarter of a century ago, keeps the door open for them and says he is still capable of forming the next government.

Agreements have also been reached with the left-wing Meretz and Labor parties, as well as with former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s nationalist party Yisrael Beitenu, a Lapid spokesman said.

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The United Arab List also negotiated to join the coalition. If that does happen, it’s the first time in Israel’s history that an independent Arab party has become a member of the government.

If Lapid misses Wednesday’s deadline, which marks the end of a 28-day presidential mandate to form a coalition, parliament will have three weeks to agree on a new candidate.

If that failed, Israel would hold another election, the fifth in two years.

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