Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Israeli ‘change’ coalition ups campaign to oust Netanyahu



Israeli ‘change’ coalition ups campaign to oust Netanyahu

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
(From left to right) former TV anchor Yair Lapid, nationalist hardliner Naftali Bennett and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. AFP

Israeli ‘change’ coalition ups campaign to oust Netanyahu

Israeli politicians on May 30 inched closer to forming a coalition that would end the era of right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s longest serving leader.

Lawmakers opposed to Netanyahu were in intense talks ahead of a June 2 night deadline, as a ceasefire held following the latest deadly military conflict with Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

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

After a March vote in which Netanyahu’s Likud party gained the most seats but again failed to form a government, former TV anchor Yair Lapid is now trying to build a rival coalition.

The centrist Lapid, 57, has until June 2 11:59pm local time (2059 GMT) to build a coalition of at least 61 deputies for a majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

Lapid is seeking to forge a diverse alliance the Israeli media has dubbed a bloc for “change”, which would include the nationalist hardliner Naftali Bennett as well as Arab-Israeli lawmakers.

In his determination to bring down the hawkish prime minister, Lapid has offered to share power and let Bennett, 49, serve the first term in a rotating premiership.

Netanyahu, in office for 12 consecutive years after an earlier three-year term, tried to cling to power on May 30 by offering his own, last-ditch power-sharing agreement to several former allies including Bennett.

He warned that Israel would otherwise be ruled by a dangerous “left-wing” alliance.

Lapid’s possible new government would also include the centrist Blue and White party of Benny Gantz and the hawkish New Hope party of Netanyahu’s former ally Gideon Saar. Avigdor Liberman’s pro-settlement Yisrael Beitenu party as well as Labour and the dovish Meretz party would also join the coalition.

The shaky arrangement would also need support from some Israeli Arab lawmaker of Palestinian descent in order to pass a confirmation vote in parliament.

The intense talks follow weeks of escalating tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, including a deadly 11-day exchange of rocket fire from Gaza and devastating Israeli airstrikes.

The war with Hamas that ended with a May 21 truce, as well as tensions in the occupied West Bank and in mixed Jewish-Arab towns in Israel, initially appeared to leave Netanyahu more likely to hold onto power.

But political scientist Gayil Talshir at Hebrew University told AFP on May 30 that Israel was now “closer than ever” to a coalition of change, adding that “Netanyahu is in a desperate position”.

Netanyahu’s Likud party won 30 seats in the March elections but failed to form a governing coalition after his far-right partners refused to sit with Arab factions or receive their support.

Lapid, whose party won 17 seats, was then given four weeks to form a government.

Netanyahu had previously pushed for yet another election, which would be the fifth since April 2019.

“Now that he sees a change coalition may be announced this evening or tomorrow, he has to move forward with a more serious deal,” Talshir told AFP.

On May 30, Netanyahu offered a rotation agreement to Bennett and Saar. But Saar rebuffed this on Twitter, writing that “our stance and our commitment was and remains: replacing the Netanyahu regime”.

Netanyahu in a subsequent video called on Saar and Bennett to “come now, immediately” to meet him and join a three-way rotation government, warning that “we are in crucial moment for the security, character and future of the state of Israel”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’