Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahuâ € ™ s
Rivals agreed to form a coalition government that would include the longest serving leader in the country
as his successor, a political upheaval amid security and economic crises.
Wednesday’s deal is fragile and could still fall apart if some right-wing lawmakers are persuaded not to support the government if they do it in the next 12 days to be voted in parliament.
A ceasefire with the Palestinian militant group Hamas remains fragile after eleven days of deadly fighting, the worst since the last of three wars in 2014.
The new government must take steps to to stimulate economic growth while keeping the coronavirus pandemic under control. Israel is reopening after several lockdowns last year and one of the fastest Covid-19 vaccination campaigns in the world.
The Biden administration will likely see an opportunity in a new leader amid ongoing tensions between Israel and many high-profile US – Officials tracing back to Mr. Netanyahu’s public campaign in 2015 against the nuclear deal with Iran. But the new government is also against the Iran deal and is not expected to seek a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
According to an agreement announced on Wednesday, Bennett, leader of the right-wing Yamina party, would initially serving as prime minister for two years, followed by the head of the centrist Yesh Atid party.
who would first serve as Secretary of State.
Mr. Bennett, 49 years old, is a former Israeli military command that later co-founded a fraud prevention software company and made millions of dollars from its sales. He is also a former Minister of Defense and Education and a former advisor to Mr. Netanyahu. He was born in Haifa to American parents and, like his former mentor, speaks fluent English. Mr. Bennett was in command of the elite Sayeret Matkal unit, in which Mr. Netanyahu previously served.
Mr. Bennett joined the Knesset in 2013 as the leader of the Jewish Home Party, a religious Zionist party. He founded Yamina in 2018 and split off from more conservative and even more aggressive Israeli politicians, although he remained in a formal alliance with them until earlier this year. He opposes a Palestinian state and supports the annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank.
Mr. Lapid, a 57-year-old former television presenter, first entered Israeli politics in 2012 and founded the centrist Yesh Atid party. He teamed up with
Blue and white ahead of the April 2019 election, putting aside his own dreams of becoming prime minister so their center-left alliance could try to outperform Netanyahu and his right-wing and religious partners.
This and a second vote were inconclusive, and they remained partners until after a third election in March 2020. Mr Lapid broke off when Mr Gantz decided to form a unity government with Mr Netanyahu after the couple promised to overthrow the prime minister they said was corrupt and in power too long. While Mr. Gantz had a rocky and short-lived political marriage to Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Lapid served as an opposition leader and bolstered his credentials as a key figure in efforts to oust Mr. Netanyahu from power. He said he supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Netanyahu is expected to become the leader of the opposition but may face challenges from other members of his Likud party who are through frustrated repeated failures to form a government. He defeated such a challenge by
Late 2019. He is on trial for corruption and, at least for the time being, will not be able to use his previous role as Prime Minister to pass laws or make appointments that could isolate him from the allegations.
A first Challenge is to hold the block together to be sworn in within the next 12 days. The parties will have to put their ideological differences aside on key issues as the coalition seeks to revive an economy torn by the Covid-19 lockdowns while protecting Israelis amid heightened tensions with Hamas. Fighting between Israel and Hamas last month killed 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, and 12 people in Israel, including two children.
Egypt is working to broker longer-term ceasefire agreements between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip . These talks are already underway and will continue when a new government is sworn in.
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