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Israel’s Lapid says he formed new coalition to unseat Netanyahu

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Israel’s centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid. POOL/AFP

Israel’s Lapid says he formed new coalition to unseat Netanyahu

Israel’s opposition leader Yair Lapid said late on June 2 he had succeeded in forming a coalition to end the rule of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s longest serving leader.

Should it be confirmed by the 120-member Knesset legislature in coming days, it would end the long reign of the hawkish right-wing leader known as Bibi who has long dominated Israeli politics.

Lapid’s announcement came in the final hour before a midnight deadline, after marathon negotiations with a group of diverse parties spanning the political spectrum, united only in their desire to oust Netanyahu.

“I succeeded,” Lapid, a former TV news anchor, wrote on Facebook. “I promise that this government will work in the service of all of the citizens of Israel, those who voted for it and those who did not.”

The right-wing nationalist tech millionaire Naftali Bennett, 49, would serve first as prime minister in a rotation agreement, before Lapid is meant to take over in two years.

“With the help of God we will do together what is good for Israel and we’ll get Israel back on track,” Bennett told Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin after Lapid had informed Rivlin of their coalition.

The opposition leader and his partners now have at least a week before lawmakers must vote to confirm their government – a period during which Netanyahu and his Likud party are expected to try to do what they can to prevent it.

Should last-minute defections scupper the “change” alliance, Israel would likely have to hold yet another election, the fifth in just over two years.

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