Israel's parliament to vote on new government without Netanyahu

It would also end more than two years of political paralysis in which three elections resulted in stalemate

Photo: EPA Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel's parliament is due to vote today on the country's next government - an unprecedented, yet fragile coalition of eight parties that would unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time in 12 years.

The members come from across the political spectrum and would not normally align with one another. However, the parties are united in their dislike of Netanyahu. The planned government even includes an Arab party, a historic first, as dpa reports. All this gives the new coalition the slimmest majority: 61 of 120 Knesset seats, but a majority nevertheless.

Under the coalition agreement, which was signed on 2 June, just half an hour before a deadline was due to expire right-wing nationalist Naftali Bennett is poised to become PM but will share his power with a centrist leader. In particular, Bennett, who heads the Yamina party, will hold office until September 2023, when he will hand over to Yair Lapid, leader of Yesh Atid, for a further two years. Some, however, have criticised the fact that Bennett is the probable next premier despite his party having only seven mandates.

This means that should the formation of the new government go ahead, it would be the first without Netanyahu in 12 years.  But also an incredibly fragile one. The inclusion of Raam and left-wing non-Arab Israeli parties means there could be friction on issues such as Israeli policies towards Palestinians - Yamina and another right-wing party, New Hope, are staunch supporters of Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, for instance.

There could also be difficulties over social policies - while some parties want to advance gay rights, such as recognising same-sex marriages, Raam, an Islamist party, is against this.

In addition, some parties want to relax religious restrictions more extensively than Yamina - a national-religious party - will likely allow.

Bennett, however, has assured that his government would focus on areas where an agreement was possible, like economic issues or the coronavirus pandemic, while avoiding more contentious matters.

"Nobody will have to give up their ideology," he recently said, "but all will have to postpone the realisation of some of their dreams... We'll focus on what can be achieved, rather than arguing about what cannot."

Additionally, Netanyahu has already done his utmost to hold onto power and sought to divide coalition members, which could end the political experiment before it even starts. He has called the new coalition the "fraud of the century."

Meanwhile, his trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust - allegations he denies - continues.

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