Israeli Politicians Face Deadline to Form Government
By VOA News June 02, 2021
An ideologically broad group of Israeli political parties trying to unseat longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have until the end of the day Wednesday to seal an agreement to form a coalition government.
The effort is led by Yesh Atid party head Yair Lapid. President Reuven Rivlin gave Lapid the opportunity to bring together a coalition of parties that could amass a majority in the 120-seat Knesset after Netanyahu failed to do so in early May.
Lapid got a boost Sunday when Naftali Bennett, who leads the hardline nationalist Yamina party, said he would join the coalition. An agreement would see Bennett serve the first two years as prime minister before Lapid rotates into the role.
Israel has been in a period political turmoil for two years, during which the country has held four elections.
After two 2019 elections, Netanyahu failed to form a coalition but stayed on as caretaker prime minister. A year ago, he formed a coalition government with rival Benny Gantz, but that fell apart in December as parliament failed to pass a budget.
If Lapid cannot finalize a coalition by the Wednesday deadline, parliament can choose a candidate to try to form a government. If that fails too, Israel would head to another election.
The 71-year-old Netanyahu has been prime minister since 2009 after holding the same office for three years in the 1990s. He is on trial facing criminal corruption charges and has denied any wrongdoing.
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