Israel Moves Toward Coalition Deal That Could Sideline Netanyahu


“This is not unity, healing or democracy,” Mr. Netanyahu said. “This is an opportunistic government. A government of capitulation, a government of fraud, a government of inertia. A government like this must not be formed.”

Ideological differences between the opposition parties were the main reason Mr. Bennett waited for so long since a general election in March to throw his lot in with Mr. Lapid. He was under pressure from his own party not to break with Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing and religious alliance, a factor he hinted at in his speech on Sunday.

“This is the most complex decision I’ve made in my life, but I am at peace with it,” said Mr. Bennett.

Any agreement reached in the coming days would need to be formally presented to Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, by Wednesday night. It would still then need to be endorsed by a vote in the Knesset, the Hebrew name for the Israeli Parliament.

Under the deal being discussed, Mr. Bennett would lead the government first, probably until the fall of 2023, while Mr. Lapid would most likely serve as foreign minister, according to two people involved in the negotiations. The pair would then swap roles until a new general election in 2025. Mr. Bennett’s party won fewer seats than Mr. Lapid’s in a March election, but he holds significant leverage during the negotiations because no government can be formed without him.

Their government would rely on the support of a small Arab Islamist party, Raam, to give it the 61 seats needed to control the 120-seat Parliament. Raam is not likely to play a formal role in the coalition, but is expected to support the new government at the Knesset confidence vote.

Mr. Netanyahu would remain as caretaker prime minister until the parliamentary vote.

The negotiations for this coalition were almost derailed by the recent conflict with Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls the Gaza Strip. That made Mr. Bennett leery of forming a government reliant on Raam, which has roots in the same religious stream as the Gaza militants.



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