June 9 (UPI) — Benjamin Netanyahu‘s tenure as Israeli prime minister came closer to ending on Wednesday when lawmakers unanimously cleared the way for a vote this weekend on whether to approve a plan for a new government — and a new leader.
The Knesset Arrangement Committee voted Wednesday on procedural rules for the vote on Sunday. At that time, lawmakers will decide whether to approve a proposal to replace Netanyahu with Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett.
The proposed government, comprised of conservatives and liberals who want new leadership, will make their case in front of the Knesset before the vote.
If approved, Bennett would become Israel’s next prime minister and serve for two years before he’s succeeded by Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid for the second half of the term. The plan to change leadership was announced a week ago.
Members of Netanyahu’s Likud’s Party bitterly contested the arrangement at Wednesday’s meeting, with lawmaker Galit Distal Atbaryan calling Bennett and New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar “parasites.”
Bennett and Sa’ar, a former Likud member, broke with Netanyahu to call for new leadership. Netanyahu, who will also speak Sunday, has pushed to remain prime minister despite facing various corruption charges in Israeli courts. He’s been prime minister of Israel since 2009 and served an earlier stint between 1996 and 1999.
In all, eight parties have signed onto the new government coalition. A clause in the agreement would prevent any members from signing on to another government, a move to keep the fragile alliance together.
Netanyahu is the longest-serving prime minister in Israel’s history but has repeatedly failed to form a majority coalition to run the country over the past two years, leading to four separate national elections.