Israeli Opposition Makes Deal to Topple Netanyahu: Live Updates

A broad alliance led by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid says it has the votes to form a government and oust Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.,

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Israeli opposition makes a coalition deal to topple Netanyahu.

  • June 2, 2021, 12:04 p.m. ET
ImageNaftali Bennett, left, and Yair Lapid in Parliament on Wednesday. The two would split a term as prime minister if their negotiations succeed.
Naftali Bennett, left, and Yair Lapid in Parliament on Wednesday. The two would split a term as prime minister if their negotiations succeed.Credit…Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

JERUSALEM — Israeli opposition parties on Wednesday reached a coalition agreement to form a government and oust Benjamin Netanyahu, the longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history and a dominant figure who has pushed his nation’s politics to the right.

The announcement by the parties could lead to the easing of a political impasse that has produced four elections in two years and left Israel without a stable government or a state budget. If Parliament ratifies the fragile agreement in a confidence vote in the coming days, it will also bring down the curtain, if only for an intermission, on the premiership of a leader who has defined contemporary Israel more than any other.

The new coalition is an unusual and awkward alliance between eight political parties from a diverse array of ideologies, from the left to the far right. It includes the membership of a small Arab party called Raam, which would become the first Arab group to join a right-leaning coalition in Israeli history. While some analysts have hailed it as reflecting the breadth and complexity of contemporary society, others say its members are too incompatible for their compact to last, and consider it the embodiment of Israel’s political dysfunction.

The alliance would be led until 2023 by Naftali Bennett, a religiously observant former settler leader who opposes a Palestinian state and wants Israel to annex the majority of the occupied West Bank. He is a former ally of Mr. Netanyahu often described as more right-wing than the prime minister.

If the government lasts a whole term, it would then be led between 2023 and 2025 by Yair Lapid, a centrist former television host considered a standard-bearer for secular Israelis.

The son of American immigrants, Mr. Bennett, 49, is a former software entrepreneur, army commando, chief of staff to Mr. Netanyahu and defense minister. His home is in central Israel, but he was once chief executive of an umbrella group, the Yesha Council, that represents Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. Until the most recent election cycle, Mr. Bennett was part of a political alliance with Bezalel Smotrich, a far-right leader.

Though Mr. Bennett’s party, Yamina, won just seven of the 120 seats in Parliament, the anti-Netanyahu forces could not form a government without his support, allowing him to set the terms of his involvement in the coalition.

Mr. Lapid, 57, is a former news anchor and journalist who became a politician nine years ago and later served as finance minister in a Netanyahu-led coalition. His party placed second in the general election in March, winning 17 seats. But Mr. Lapid considered the ouster of Mr. Netanyahu more important than demanding to go first as prime minister.

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