Israeli opposition bids to sideline Netanyahu in unity government

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Israeli opposition bids to sideline Netanyahu in unity government

Right-wing leader Naftali Bennett says he will work ‘with all my strength’ for a deal with left-leaning opposition leader Yair Lapid

Michael Daventry is foreign editor of Jewish News

Naftali Bennett, as Defence Minister in 2019, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a visit to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights (Photo: Reuters)
Naftali Bennett, as Defence Minister in 2019, pictured with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a visit to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights (Photo: Reuters)

Israel took another step towards a government that excluded Benjamin Netanyahu after a key right-wing leader agreed to support it.

Naftali Bennett, a one-time aide to the Israeli prime minister, said he would work “with all my strength” to form a unity government with Yair Lapid, the leader of the centrist Yesh Atid.

In a televised speech on Sunday night, Bennett said: “It’s my intention to do my utmost in order to form a national unity government along with my friend Yair Lapid, so that, God willing, together we can save the country from a tailspin and return Israel to its course.”

Bennett is set to become prime minister under the arrangement, even though his Yamina party has fewer seats than Yesh Atid.

Lapid, whose party is the second largest in the Knesset, has already signed deals with another right-wing party, Yisrael Beiteinu, and two others on the left, Labour and Meretz.

But Bennett is his biggest signing yet because his support is crucial to break the deadlock in the Knesset.

was asked by President Reuven Rivlin to try form a government at the beginning of this month.

The deadline for him to complete the task is Wednesday.

It means Israel is a step closer to a government that excludes Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time since 2009.

This story is being updated by our journalists

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