It’s the unlikeliest of coalitions, the next prime minister, right-wing Naftali Bennett, who vows there will never be a Palestinian state, the next foreign minister, centrist Yair Lapid, former TV host who believes in the two-state solution, and Mansour Abbas, leader of an Islamist party who’s demanded improved rights for Israel’s Arab minority.
Along with others, they formed the change coalition, united only in their opposition to one man. Benjamin Netanyahu is the country’s longest running prime minister, one of Israel’s most consequential politicians, and, today, one of its most divisive. The change coalition’s strange bedfellows needed to come together to oust him because of the Knesset, or Parliament, math. A government coalition needs 61 of 120 seats. In the last election, Netanyahu’s Likud got the most 30 seats, but he couldn’t create a coalition.
Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party came in second with 17, so he tried next. The change coalition adds the centrist Blue and White Party’s eight seats, Bennett’s right-wing Yamina Party’s seven seats, progressive Labor’s seven seats, nationalist immigrant party Yisrael Beiteinu’s seven seats, center-right party New Hope’s six seats, the green party Meretz’s six seats, and Abbas’ Islamist Ra’am Party’s four seats.
Eight parties, 62 seats, one coalition. The power-sharing agreement calls for Bennett to become prime minister for two years and Lapid to take over after that. Bennett will replace the man who was once his mentor. Bennett has called for Israel to annex the West Bank, which would be illegal under international law.