A legal challenge by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to thwart an opponent of a rival right to lead a new government has been rejected because his opponents have signed an agreement that would withdraw him.
Naftali Bennett, Netanyahu’s former defense minister, announced on Sunday that he would join a proposed alliance with Central Opposition leader Yair Lapid, who would first serve as a rotation deal as prime minister.
They have until midnight on Wednesday (21:00 GMT) to present a final treaty to Rivlin, which gave Lapid the task of forming a new government after Netanyahu failed to do so after a close election on 23 March.
Hoping to meet the deadline, Lapid, Bennett and other party leaders met to conclude coalition agreements, sources informed about the talks said.
Netanyahu’s conservative Likud said in a letter to the legal advice of the presidency and parliament that Lapid was not authorized to cede the premiership to Bennett.
But President Reuven Rivlin’s office said in response that there was no legal merit to Likud’s claim because Lapid would be sworn in as an “alternative prime minister”, who would serve second as prime minister as part of the rotation.
It accepts Likud’s argument that Lapid should give the president complete information about the new government and not just announce that he has concluded a coalition agreement.
Lapid-Bennett’s share of power could include other right-wing politicians as well as liberal and center-left parties. Israeli media have speculated that it could also provide parliamentary support from a party that draws votes from Israel’s minority Palestinian citizens.
This prompted Netanyahu to accuse Bennett of abandoning Israel for facing internal conflict, while Palestinian protesters protested against Israeli attempts to expel them from their homes and their access to sacred sites in the Old City of To limit Jerusalem, the deadly peace process with the Palestinians, and Iran.
Netanyahu, 71, is the dominant political figure of his generation. He was first elected prime minister in 1996 and re-elected in 2009. He held the top office for more than a decade. But he is also facing a corruption trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust – charges he denies.
A digitally altered image of Bennett in a Palestinian keffiyeh, circulated on social media, has drawn comparisons with attempts to discredit former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995 by an ultra-nationalist who opposed his peacemaking was.
An Israeli security source said Bennett had received parliamentary bodyguards on the recommendation of the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency because of the ‘atmosphere of incitement’ against him.
Lapid and Bennett said they wanted to bring together Israelis from across the political divide and put an end to hateful political discourse.
” A country that is divided and violent cannot deal with Iran or with the economy. A leadership that incites us against each other impairs our ability to meet the challenges, ‘Lapid said.