When the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) gave confidence on Sunday to the new coalition government headed by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year tenure as the country’s prime minister was brought to an end.
Under the new coalition agreement between eight Israeli parties, Bennett will lead the government for two years followed by centrist Lapid for two more years.
But Netanyahu vowed to work to bring down the new government.
“If it is destined for us to be in the opposition, we will do it with our backs straight until we topple this dangerous government and return to lead the country in our way,” Netanyahu said during the Knesset’s special session to approve Bennett’s coalition government.
Netanyahu first became prime minister between 1996-1999 succeeding Shimon Peres as the country’s 14th prime minister. He then made a comeback in 2009 taking over from Ehud Olmert and maintained his post until Sunday.
During that period, he led three wars on Gaza, including the most recent one that ended on May 21.
After congratulating Bennett as prime minister on Sunday, Netanyahu quickly assumed his seat on the opposition benches in the Knesset.
Netanyahu has been facing charges of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust since 2020, accusations he vehemently denies.
Amjad Al-Omari, a journalist covering Israeli affairs, thinks that Netanyahu’s end of premiership will prevent him from maneuvering corruption charges.
“Netanyahu’s absence in the prime minister’s seat will prevent him from obstructing his trial in the corruption cases he is accused of,” Al-Omari told Anadolu Agency.
Al-Omari said Netanyahu used his position as prime minister in the past few years to lay obstacles to delay his trial, including taking advantage of the coronavirus restrictions.
“But now that he has been toppled, his trial in corruption cases will accelerate since he is now just another Knesset member without special political power,” Al-Omari said.
He also noted that Netanyahu faces fierce competition within his Likud Party from former Finance Minister Yisrael Katz, and Nir Barkat, the former mayor of the occupied Palestinian city of Jerusalem.
Despite Netanyahu’s vowing to return to power “as soon as possible”, Al-Omari believes the political future of the newly ousted Israeli prime minister is at “stake.”
Bringing down gov’t
Adel Shadeed, an expert on Israeli affairs, holds that Netanyahu will work relentlessly to avoid arrest on corruption charges, but he noted that will need Netanyahu to reclaim the premiership.
“For him to avoid being arrested, Netanyahu requires to return to the premiership in the upcoming election which he will only achieve by thwarting and dismantling the current government”, Shadeed told Anadolu Agency.
He continued, “Netanyahu was a leader of the opposition, and he is a veteran politician, and he will put all this experience to achieve his goals.”
Shadeed also highlighted the “fragility” of the new government since it combines the opposing ideologies of the far-right and the far left, noting that they were only united for getting rid of Netanyahu.
The eight Israeli parties that comprise the new government are Yesh Atid, Labour, and Blue and White — three centrist parties — and three right-wing parties in the form of New Hope, Yamina, and Yisrael Beiteinu. The remaining two are the leftist Meretz party and an Arab party, the United Arab List.
Shadeed projects that if Netanyahu succeeds in overthrowing the current government and holds early election, he will succeed in forming a government by a landslide.
“All options are available,” he concluded.