JERUSALEM — Israel’s parliament will vote Sunday on whether to approve a new coalition government and unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s the longest-serving leader.
The ballot will take place in a special session, according to a statement from Yariv Levin, speaker of parliament. Under a deal agreed by coalition parties, Jewish nationalist Naftali Bennett would become prime minister until August 2023, after which the centrist former Finance Minister Yair Lapid would take over for the remainder of the government’s tenure.
The coalition is an amalgam of religious, secular, nationalist, leftist, and centrist parties that, for the first time in Israeli history, includes an Arab party. Netanyahu, who’s on trial on corruption charges he denies, has railed against the proposed government, saying it poses a danger to Israel’s security in light of the recent conflict with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, and the country’s ongoing hostilities with Iran and its regional allies.
On Sunday, Netanyahu called the coalition a “fraud,” adding that Bennett had betrayed right-wing voters by teaming up with lawmakers with opposing ideologies. Bennett asked the premier to “let the country move on” from more than two years of political turmoil tied to Netanyahu’s trial.
The bitter wrangling has prompted the head of Israel’s domestic security services to call for a halt to online incitement out of a concern that extremists would interpret those messages as a license to political violence. Netanyahu said he condemns incitement or violence from anywhere in Israel’s political spectrum.
If sworn in, the new government is expected to focus on boosting an economic recovery from the pandemic while setting aside sensitive diplomatic issues that could tear the coalition apart.
“The unity government is on the way and ready to work on behalf of all the people of Israel,” Lapid said in a statement.