Tel Aviv, May 30 : Opponents of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, from the right, centre, and left, are close to striking a deal to form a new government, which will end his over decade-long stint in power, with a key party announcing its support.
Former Defence Minister Naftali Bennett of the ultra-nationalist pro-settler Yamina party on Sunday announced he would opt for an alliance with opposition leader Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid.
“I will do everything to form a national unity government with my friend Yair Lapid,” Bennett said in a televised addresss, the BBC reported.
Lapid has till Wednesday to form a new government, otherwise there will be new elections – the fifth in the past two years with all previous four of them having failed to produce a clear majority.
Under the deal between Bennett and Lapid, the two would share the office of Prime Minister, with Bennett initially to take the role for two years, and then to be replaced by Lapid.
Lapid’s centrist party came in second in the elections on March 23, behind Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud.
After the March elections, Netanyahu had failed to form a government, so President Reuven Rivlin appointed Lapid to do so.
Lapid’s pro-reform party planned to continue coalition talks on Sunday with Gideon Saar’s right-leaning New Hope.
It has already reached agreements with the left-liberal Meretz Party, the Labour Party and former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party.
Lapid is trying to ensure the support of several small parties that are far apart on the political spectrum, in order to form a minority government that would be acceptable to Arab deputies.
They are united above all by their rejection of Netanyahu, who is currently being tried for corruption.
However, the smaller parties have widely diverging political goals.
If Lapid succeeds, it would end bring an end to the era of Netanyahu, in office since 2009, as well as from 1996 to 1999.