Israel's new government: What just happened, and what's next?



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wearing a face mask, looks as his corruption trial resumes, at Jerusalem’s District Court April 5, 2021. Abir Sultan/Pool via REUTERS

By Ari Rabinovitch

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -Israel’s opposition leader moved closer to unseating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he told the country’s president late on Wednesday that he has reached agreements with political allies to form a new government.

Here is a timeline of events that led to the emerging coalition deal between centrist Yair Lapid and the far-right Naftali Bennett, and what happens next.

March 23, 2021 – Israel holds its fourth inconclusive election in two years. As in every previous vote, no party won a majority in the 120-seat parliament. Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud emerges as the biggest party.

Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid (There is a Future) comes second. Bennett’s Yamina (Rightwards) party wins just six seats, but he emerges as kingmaker.

April 6 – President Reuven Rivlin gives Netanyahu 28 days to form a new government. He woos smaller right-wing and religious parties, including Yamina, but fails.

May 5 – Rivlin turns to Lapid, who tries to form a “government of change” from an unlikely coalition of right-wing, centrist and leftist parties.

Such a coalition would be fragile and require outside backing by Arab members of Israel’s parliament, who oppose much of the right-wing agenda of some in the group.

May 10 – Fighting erupts between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and unrest breaks out in many mixed Jewish-Arab cities in Israel. Coalition talks break down.

May 21 – Ceasefire declared. Coalition talks resume.

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May 30 – Bennett announces he will join centrist rivals to unseat Netanyahu.

June 2 – The deadline for Lapid to announce whether he has formed a majority coalition was at midnight on Wednesday.

About 30 minutes before the deadline Lapid told Rivlin he had succeeded in forming a government.

Rivlin’s office issued a statement saying: “We expect the Knesset will convene as soon as possible to ratify the government, as required.”

Mid-June – The new government is expected to be sworn in.

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