Middle East

Israel's political rollercoaster since its last election

JERUSALEM (REUTERS) – Two rivals of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a partnership on Sunday (May 30) that could remove Israel’s longest-serving leader.

Here is a timeline of events that led to the emerging coalition deal between centrist Yair Lapid and the far-right Naftali Bennett, and what happens next.

March 23, 2021

Israel holds its fourth inconclusive election in two years. As in every previous vote, no party won a majority in the 120-seat parliament. Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud emerges as the biggest party.

Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid (There is a Future) comes second.

Bennett’s Yamina (Rightwards) party wins just six seats, but he emerges as kingmaker.

April 6

President Reuven Rivlin gives Netanyahu 28 days to form a new government. He woos smaller right-wing and religious parties, including Yamina, but fails.

May 5

Rivlin turns to Lapid , who tries to form a “government of change” from an unlikely coalition of right-wing, centrist and leftist parties.

Such a coalition would be fragile and require outside backing by Arab members of Israel’s parliament, who oppose much of the right-wing agenda of some in the group.

May 10

Fighting erupts between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and unrest breaks out in many mixed Jewish-Arab cities in Israel. Coalition talks break down.

May 21

Ceasefire declared. Coalition talks resume.

May 30

Bennett announces he will join centrist rivals to unseat Netanyahu.

June 2

Deadline for Lapid to announce whether he has formed a majority coalition. If he fails, the president turns it over to anyone in parliament who thinks they can succeed. Or a fifth election will be called.

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