Israeli politicians will hold a confidence vote on an opposition-led government on Sunday, a move that, if successful, will unseat the country’s longest-serving leader, Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The debate and vote on the new government will take place Sunday, June 13, 2021 during a special session of parliament,” the speaker of the Knesset, Yariv Levin, announced in a statement. If the vote passes, it is expected to lead to a swearing-in the same day.
The leader of the opposition, Yair Lapid, has gathered eight Israeli parties with vast ideological differences to form what he calls a “government of change”, which has the primary aim of ousting Netanyahu, who has been in power for 12 consecutive years.
“It’s happening!” Lapid wrote on Twitter following the date confirmation. “The unity government is on the way and ready to work on behalf of all the people of Israel.”
The fragile alliance includes a far-right former settler leader, Naftali Bennett, who under the agreement will become prime minister for the first half of a four-year term before handing over to Lapid. Arab Islamist and Zionist centrist and leftwing politicians have also joined the coalition.
Netanyahu, 71, has sought to undermine the government in waiting and find potential defectors within its ranks with the hopes of chipping away at its razor-thin majority of 61 seats in a 120-seat Knesset.
On Sunday, the veteran incumbent urged rightwing opposition politicians to reject what he called a “dangerous leftwing government”, which he said was the result of the “greatest election fraud in the history of the country”. Netanyahu accuses Bennett of abandoning rightwing voters by partnering with Lapid.
The timing of the confidence vote, set by the Knesset speaker Levin, a Netanyahu ally, is seen as providing the prime minister with extra time to torpedo the coalition plans. Opposition figures had sought an earlier date.
Unconfirmed Israeli media reports on Tuesday suggested the new government would submit to parliament several proposals, including legislation that could impose a two-term limit on any prime minister. The bill would effectively ban Netanyahu – a five-term leader – from high office in the future.