The ultranationalist Naftali Benet, whose Yamina party is key to tipping the balance of the formation of a Government in Israel, announced this Sunday his support for a government with the opposition bloc led by the centrist Yair Lapid, which paves the way for a coalition remove Benjamin Netanyahu from power.
“At this decisive moment, we must assume responsibilities. I intend to do everything in my power to form a government of national unity with my friend Yair Lapid,” Benet announced in a public appearance. The ultranationalist has once again refused to form a right-wing coalition led by Netanyahu, which has been in power in Israel for more than a decade.RELATED
After several weeks of comings and goings, Benet’s decision to support the so-called “Government of Change” tips the balance in favor of the opposition bloc. With the support of the seven deputies of Yamina (a coalition of Israeli right-wing parties), the anti-Netanyahu bloc would have the support of 58 of the 120 members of the Knesset (Parliament) and would need three more to reach the minimum majority of 61 seats. with which to form the Executive, something that could be achieved with the external support of the Islamist Raam party, key to finish determining the situation with its four deputies.
During the first two years Benet would occupy the position of prime minister in the new Government and would alternate with Lapid for the following two. During a meeting today, Benet received the support of six of the seven Yamina parliamentarians to “form a government and avoid a fifth election,” local media reported. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, during the meeting Benet would have told his faction colleagues that although “this is not a government of dreams”, “the objective is to make it work.”
The new Executive would also be made up of the far-right Israel Nuestro Hogar, the right-wing Nueva Esperanza, the centrists of Blue and White and Yesh Atid (led by Lapid) and two center-left formations: the Labor Party and Meretz. This mixture of ideologies had until now been the main obstacle to forming a “government of change”, especially due to the attacks on Benet and Guideón Saar, leader of Nueva Esperanza, for their possible alliance with parties to the left of the political spectrum.
Three days from the end of the deadline that Lapid has, however, there is still time for last-minute changes, something common in unpredictable Israeli politics and even more so if it is the possible end of Netanyahu’s term. The current prime minister this morning made a proposal to Benet and Saar to establish a right-wing government with a triple rotation between them in the position of head of government, which Saar rejected almost immediately.
One of the alternatives left to the current president is to try to seduce turncoats from the right-wing parties of the opposition bloc and thus hope to have the support of Benet. The latter, although he has expressed that the ideal would be a right-wing government, given the apparent impossibility of materializing it, he would be prioritizing an alliance with the opponents to avoid a fifth election. If an Executive is formed, Israel would emerge from a political blockade of more than two years that led in March of this year to the fourth elections since 2019.