JERUSALEM – Opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have announced that they have reached an agreement to form a new governing coalition, paving the way for the long-time Israeli president’s ouster.
The dramatic announcement by opposition leader Yair Lapid and his main coalition partner, Naftali Bennett, came moments before the midnight deadline and prevented the country from indulging in what could have been its fifth consecutive election in just over two years.
In a statement on Twitter, Lapid said he had informed the country’s president of the deal. “This government will work for all the citizens of Israel, who voted for it and those who didn’t. It will do everything in its power to unite Israeli society,” he said.
Under the agreement, Lapid and Bennett will alternately divide the post of prime minister. Bennett will serve the first two years, while Lapid will serve the last two. The historic deal also includes a small Islamist party, the United Arab List, which would make it the first ever Arab party to be part of a ruling coalition.
The agreement still needs to be approved by the Knesset, or parliament, in a vote expected early next week. If this is done, Lapid and a variety of his associates will end Netanyahu’s record 12-year rule.
Netanyahu, who is struggling to stay in office while battling corruption charges, is expected to do everything in his power in the coming days to prevent the new coalition from taking power. If he fails, he will be pushed into opposition.