Israel opposition parties agree to form new unity government

Israeli opposition parties have reached an agreement to form a new government that would end Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year tenure as prime minister.

Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party, announced an eight-faction coalition had been formed.

Under a rotation arrangement, the head of the right-wing Yamina party, Naftali Bennett, would serve as prime minister first before handing over to Mr Lapid.

There still needs to be a parliamentary vote before the government is sworn in.

In a statement, Mr Lapid said he had informed President Reuven Rivlin of the agreement, adding: “I pledge that this government will work in the service of all Israeli citizens, those who voted for it and those who did not.

“It will respect its opponents and do everything in its power to unite and connect all parts of Israeli society.”

An image carried on Israeli media showed Mr Lapid, Mr Bennett and Arab Islamist Raam party leader, Mansour Abbas, signing the agreement, a deal many thought impossible.

Abbas told reporters: “The decision was hard and there were several disputes but it was important to reach agreements.” He said that there were “many things in this agreement for the benefit of Arab society”.

In his note to the president, Mr Lapid said he would head the government alongside Mr Bennett, who he would replace as prime minister on 27 August 2023.

Mr Rivlin has called on parliament to convene as soon as possible to hold the confidence vote.

If the coalition fails to win the support of a majority in the 120-seat Knesset, there is a risk of the country having to go to elections for the fifth time in two years.

The coalition members span the full spectrum of Israeli politics. The parties have little in common politically apart from their plan to replace Mr Netanyahu. (Courtesy BBC)

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