Far-right party leader Naftali Bennett backs crucial deal to oust Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

ISRAELI nationalist hardliner Naftali Bennett has said he will join a coalition government that could depose the country's longest-serving leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a nationwide address, Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett said he had decided to join forces with the country's opposition leader, Yair Lapid.

The seismic political development comes in the tense aftermath of an 11-day war between Israel and Palestine after clashes in Jerusalem sparked a bombing blitz.

In his address to Israeli's Bennett said: “It's my intention to do my utmost in order to form a national unity government along with my friend Yair Lapid, so that, God willing, together we can save the country from a tailspin and return Israel to its course.”

The pair have until Wednesday to complete a deal in which they are expected to each serve two years as prime minister in a rotation deal. 

Lapid's Yesh Atid party said negotiating teams were to meet later today.

A unity government would end the cycle of deadlock that has plunged the country into four inconclusive elections over the past two years. It also would end, at least for the time being, the record-setting tenure of Netanyahu, the most dominant figure in Israeli politics over the past three decades.

In his own televised statement, Netanyahu accused Bennett of betraying the Israeli right wing.

He urged nationalist politicians who have joined the coalition talks not to establish what he called a leftist government.

God willing, together we can save the country from a tailspin and return Israel to its course

A government like this is a danger to the security of Israel, and is also a danger to the future of the state, he said.

Bennett, a former Netanyahu aide turned rival, said he was taking the dramatic step to prevent yet another election. While sharing Netanyahu's nationalist ideology, Bennett said there was no feasible way for the hard-line right wing to form a governing majority in parliament.

He said: “We will focus on what can be done, instead of fighting all day on what's impossible.”

Each of the past four elections was seen as a referendum on Netanyahu — who has become a polarising figure as he stands trial on corruption charges with each ending in deadlock.


Netanyahu is desperate to stay in power while he is on trial for fraud, fell short of a decisive majority at a general election in March.

He has used his office as a stage to rally support and lash out against police, prosecutors and the media.

If his opponents fail to form a government and new elections are triggered, it would give him another chance at seeing the election of a parliament that is in favor of granting him immunity from prosecution. 

But if they succeed, he would find himself in the much weaker position of opposition leader and potentially find himself facing unrest in his Likud party.

Netanyahu, who has accused Bennett of betraying the Israeli right wing, planned a televised statement later on.

In order to form a government, a party leader must secure the support of a 61-seat majority in parliament. Because no single party controls a majority on its own, coalitions are usually built with smaller partners.

As leader of the largest party, Netanyahu was given the first opportunity by the country's figurehead president to form a coalition. 

But he was unable to secure a majority with his traditional religious and nationalist allies.

Speaking shortly after Mr Bennett's announcement, the prime minister accused Mr Bennett of carrying out "the fraud of the century" – a reference to the Yamina leader's previous public promises not to join forces with Lapid.

Mr Netanyahu said the former defence minister's approach would be "a danger for the security of Israel". He did not elaborate.

Netanyahu, 71, who faces trial on fraud, bribery and breach of trust charges which he denies, has clung to power through a period of political turmoil that has seen four inconclusive elections in under two years.

    Source: Read Full Article