WORLD / MID-EAST
Israel’s Lapid says ‘obstacles’ remain in bid to oust Netanyahu with coalition govt
Published: Jun 01, 2021 05:38 PM
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks after receiving a vaccine at Sheba Medical Center in central Israeli city of Ramat Gan, on Dec. 19, 2020. Netanyahu got vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus on a live television broadcast Saturday evening. (Photo by Gil Cohen Magen/Xinhua)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks after receiving a vaccine at Sheba Medical Center in central Israeli city of Ramat Gan, on Dec. 19, 2020. Netanyahu got vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus on a live television broadcast Saturday evening. (Photo by Gil Cohen Magen/Xinhua)

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid on Monday said many obstacles remain before a diverse coalition can be built to oust veteran Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but voiced hope it will achieve the "greater goal."

Lapid, a secular centrist, has been locked in talks with the right-wing nationalist Naftali Bennett on the terms of a "change alliance" that also hinges on an array of other parties ahead of a Wednesday midnight deadline.

Former TV anchor Lapid's chances of success rose when tech millionaire Bennett said Sunday he would join a "national unity government" in which the two men would take turns to serve as premier.

Israel's latest political turmoil comes more than two months after Israel's fourth inconclusive election in less than two years, and could topple the right-wing leader known as Bibi, who has ruled for a total of 15 years. 

The intense political bargaining follows Israel's bloody 11-day military conflict with Islamist group Hamas in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, that ended with a May 21 cease-fire.

A viable anti-Netanyahu coalition would still need the support of other parties and lawmakers to gain a majority of 61 seats in the 120-member Knesset, Israel's legislature.

But while Lapid warned of remaining hurdles, he also sought to strike a cautiously upbeat note. 

"We'll have to overcome them together," he told members of his Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party. 

"That's our first test - to see if we can find smart compromises in the coming days to achieve the greater goal."

Netanyahu, in power for the past 12 years following an earlier three-year term, has been fighting for his political life, warning on Sunday of "a left-wing government dangerous to the state of Israel."

The 71-year-old is Israel's longest serving prime minister, and the first to face criminal charges while in office - on fraud, bribery and breach of trust charges, which he denies.

AFP
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