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Israeli Opposition Head Announces He Can Form Government

Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party, delivers a statement to the press in Jerusalem, May 31, 2021. (Debbie Hill/Reuters)

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid announced that he is able to form a new government, in another step towards ousting longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Lapid’s coalition is made up of parties from the left and right wings of the political spectrum, many of whom would not normally sit together in the same government. For the first time in Israel’s history, an Arab political party—the Islamic conservative United Arab List—signed on as part of the prospective governing coalition.

The new government must survive a vote of confidence in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, but the Knesset will not be in session for another twelve days. This means that members of Lapid’s coalition may defect in the meantime, potentially sending Israel to another round of elections.

“I am honored to inform you that I have succeeded in forming a government,” Lapid told Israeli president Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday.

“I congratulate you and the heads of the parties on your agreement to form a government,” Rivlin replied. “We expect the Knesset will convene as soon as possible to ratify the government, as required.”

Lapid’s announcement comes after years of political deadlock in Israel, which has seen four national elections in the past two years. Coalition negotiations were interrupted in May during an escalation of hostilities between Israel and armed Palestinian factions in Gaza, as well as inter-ethnic rioting in Israel itself.

If the Knesset approves the new coalition, Netanyahu will be ousted after serving as prime minister since 2009, following a previous term from 1996 to 1999.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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