Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opponents on Thursday pushed for a quick parliament vote to formally end his lengthy rule, hoping to head off any last-minute attempts by the premier to derail their newly announced coalition government.
The latest political maneuvering began just hours after opposition leader Yair Lapid and his main coalition partner, Naftali Bennett, declared they had reached a deal to form a new government and muster a majority in the 120-member parliament, or Knesset.
The coalition consists of eight parties from across the political spectrum with the shared goal of toppling Netanyahu after a record-setting 12 years in power. The alliance includes hardliners previously allied with Netanyahu, as well as center-left parties and even an Arab faction — a first in Israeli politics.
Netanyahu lashed out at his foes on Thursday, signalling that he will continue to exert pressure on former ideological allies who joined the Lapid-Bennett coalition. “All members of Knesset who were elected with right-wing votes need to oppose this dangerous leftist government,” he wrote on Twitter. The anti-Netanyahu bloc announced the coalition deal just before a deadline at midnight Wednesday. The agreement triggered a complex process that is likely to stretch over the next week. The coalition commands a razor-thin majority of 61 votes in parliament. Now the question is whether the group’s votes will hold together to name a new parliament speaker.
The speaker would preside over a Knesset vote required to confirm the new government. The current parliament speaker is a Netanyahu ally who could use his position to delay the vote and give Netanyahu more time to sabotage the coalition.
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