Image: Head of Yamina party, Naftali Bennett, who is tipped to be the next PM of Israel (Credit: Official Facebook Page)
Israel's longest serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu's exit is now almost certain as Yair Lapid, leader of centrist Yesh Atid party, informed President Reuven Rivlin that he has managed to stitch an alliance of the opposition parties, a little ahead of the deadline that ended on Wednesday midnight.
According to a CNN report, Lapid informed the president about the development just 38 minutes before midnight on Wednesday, when the time limit given to him to form a new government ended.
Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party, which was the second runner up in the elections, was asked by Rivlin to form a coalition government following the results of the Knesset elections.
In the situation, the president noted that it can be either a government that Lapid will lead as the prime minister or a government headed by another lawmaker with Lapid serving as an alternative prime minister.
The possibility of Lapid's success was considered high as far right politician and head of Yamina party, Naftali Bennett (49), who has six legislators in Parliament, agreed to join the coalition.
Though Bennett’s Yamina party was far behind both Netanyahu's and Lapid’s parties in the March election, the opposition's desire to oust Netanyahu put him to prominence as a key power broker.
"I intend to act with all my might to establish a government of national unity together with Yair Lapid," Bennett had said in a statement broadcast by Israeli TV channels, Sputnik had reported.
An image carried in Israeli media showed Lapid, Bennett and Mansour Abbas, leader of the Arab Islamist Raam party, signinging the coalition agreement, which was thought to be a challenging task.
Whatever happens tonight and in the days left until the confidence vote if it ever takes place, this is a historic photo. A leader of an Arab-Israeli party and the leaders of a Jewish-nationalist party signing an agreement to join a government together pic.twitter.com/ahGijY6qgc— Anshel Pfeffer אנשיל פפר (@AnshelPfeffer) June 2, 2021
Israeli Arabs form 20 per cent of the population. This is the first time in decades that an Israeli Arab party has joined the government.
News agency AFP said that the party has said it would oppose a government led by Naftali Bennett, who is opposed to the concept of a Palestinian state.
Naftali Bennett, who has served as Netanyahu's senior aid from 2006 to 2008, will be the next prime minister of Israel for the first two years of the coalition government, as per the conditions of the alliance agreement, according to media reports.
Lapid will serve as the foreign minister until Bennett hands off the office to him halfway through the term.
According to CNN, in a statement, Lapid said the "government will work to serve all the citizens of Israel including those who aren't members of it, will respect those who oppose it, and do everything in its power to unite all parts of Israeli society."
The coalition agreement has to pass a vote of confidence in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, before forming a new government and prime minister are sworn in, the report said.
The new government comprises diverse factions from the left-wing Meretz to Bennett's right-wing Yamina party, CNN reported.
The United Arab List, an Arab-Israeli party, has also joined the government but they are unlikely to have a minister, the report said, adding they will have negotiated with the coalition on the issues important to them.
Netanyahu's opponents have little in common but they have united in their desire to see his 12 year run in power come to end.
Israel has had four inconclusive parliamentary elections in the last two years.