Benjamin Netanyahu Tells Lawmakers to Oppose 'Dangerous Leftist Government' as He Faces Removal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Twitter Thursday that his lawmaker allies need to "oppose this dangerous leftist government," as he faces potential replacement in office with a new coalition government.

Opponents of Netanyahu asked parliament on Thursday for a speedy vote to officially remove him from office. Just hours before, Yair Lapid and coalition partner Naftali Bennett announced they had finalized a deal that would allow them to gain a majority in parliament and build the new government.

The coalition is an alliance of eight parties that vary on the political spectrum but share a common objective of ending Netanyahu's 12-year tenure. Some coalition advocates are former allies of Netanyahu, while others fall into groupings such as center-left parties and a previously unseen Arab faction in Israel.

Israel is attempting to recover after a couple tumultuous years in which the country saw four inconclusive elections, an economic crisis caused by COVID-19, and the recent Israel-Gaza conflict that heightened mob violence.

On top of potential removal from office, Netanyahu is also contending with corruption charges

"We never had a coalition like this," said Hillel Bar Sadeh at a coffee shop in Jerusalem. "We like to have a new spirit, we like to have some unity."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Israel Prime Minister
Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett, left, smiles as he speaks to Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid during a special session of the Knesset, whereby Israeli lawmakers elect a new president, at the plenum in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. Ronen Zvulun/Pool Photo via AP

The owner of the coffee shop, Yosi Zarifi, said he trusts that Netanyahu will return to power — and distrusts the coalition.

"Everybody is clear that this trick will not last, there won't be any glue (to keep it together) here," he said.

The anti-Netanyahu bloc announced the coalition deal just before a deadline at midnight Wednesday. The agreement triggered a complex process that is likely to stretch over the next week.

The coalition has a razor-thin majority of 61 votes in parliament. Now the question is whether the group's votes will hold together in order to name a new parliament speaker, who would then preside over a vote required to confirm the new government.

If the group can't manage that, the current speaker, who is a Netanyahu ally, could use his position to delay the vote and give Netanyahu more time to sabotage the coalition.

As the coalition was coming together in recent days, Netanyahu and his supporters ramped up a pressure campaign against former hawkish allies, including Bennett and his No. 2 in the Yamina party, Ayelet Shaked.

Netanyahu accused them of betraying their values. His supporters launched vicious social media campaigns and staged noisy protests outside Shaked's home. The prime minister's Likud party also called for a demonstration Thursday night outside the home of Yamina lawmaker Nir Orbach, urging him to quit the coalition.

That's a taste of the pressure to be expected for lawmakers on the right. And some on the left now have time to think about whether they will pay for this partnership in the next election.

"There will be a lot of pressure, especially on right-wingers, especially for religious right-wingers," said Gideon Rahat, a political science professor at Hebrew University. "They will go to the synagogue and people will pressure them. It will be a nightmare for some of them."

Netanyahu and his supporters called a meeting later Thursday to discuss their next steps.

Under the coalition agreement, Lapid and Bennett will split the job of prime minister in a rotation. Bennett, a former ally of Netanyahu, is to serve the first two years, while Lapid is to serve the final two years — though it is far from certain their fragile coalition will last that long.

The historic deal also includes a small Islamist party, the United Arab List, which would make it the first Arab party ever to be part of a governing coalition.

Gaza Destruction
Palestinian musicians perform on the rubble of the Hanadi Tower during an event organised by the Palestinian Committee on Youth and Culture in Gaza City on June 2, 2021, more than a week after a ceasefire brought an end to 11 days of hostilities between Israel and Gaza rulers Hamas. Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images