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Opposition groups on Sunday said they have formed a coalition to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, signaling the possible end of the country’s longest-serving leader, according to reports.
Naftali Bennett, Netanyahu’s former defense minister, and centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid have agreed to a power-sharing government following weeks of negotiations.
“We could go to fifth elections, sixth elections, until our home falls upon us, or we could stop the madness and take responsibility,” Bennett said in a televised statement Sunday evening, the Washington Post reported. “Today, I would like to announce that I intend to join my friend Yair Lapid in forming a unity government.”
The two have until Wednesday to cement their deal, which would allow each to serve two years as prime minister on a rotating basis.
Israel has held four inconclusive elections over the last two years on Netanuyahu, who faces corruption charges.
Bennett, a former Netanyahu protege-turned-foe, said he’s taking the step with Lapid to save the country from another election and because he believes forming a hard-line right wing governing majority is not feasible.
“A government like this will succeed only if we work together as a group,” Bennett said, adding that all sides “will need to postpone fulfilling all their dreams. We will focus on what can be done, instead of fighting all day on what’s impossible.”
Netanyahu, who has served as prime minister for 12 years, called Bennett’s move the “fraud of the century” and said he has made “incredible” offers to Bennett’s party to avoid having a “dangerous left-wing government,” Haaretz reported.
But Nethanyahu said Bennett “only cares about himself.”
Polls show criticism against Netanyahu on the rise again following the 11 days of fighting with Hamas militants that ended with an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, the Washington Post reported.
It said roughly 47 percent of Israelis opposed the truce and 67 percent said they anticipate more fighting with Hamas within the next three years, the report said.
Netanyahu’s foes said he failed to stop Hamas rocket fire from hitting Israel and that his military operation had no long-term strategy, the report said.
“With the best intelligence and air force in the world, Netanyahu managed to extract from Hamas an ‘unconditional cease-fire.’ Embarrassing,” said Gideon Saar, a former Netanyahu backer.
With Post wires
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