End of Netanyahu era: Lapid tells Rivlin coalition formed, details not yet finalized

Just 38 minutes before the Wednesday midnight deadline, Lapid informed the president that the obstacles to forming a coalition were surmounted. But it must pass a Knesset vote.

By World Israel News Staff

At 11:22 Wednesday night, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid informed President Reuven Rivlin that he succeeded in creating a coalition government to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Earlier in the day, negotiations to create the so-called change government had hit a serious roadblock, as the right-wing Yemina and New Hope parties were refusing to cede to the Islamist Ra’am party’s demands.

New Hope MK Ze’ev Elkin said the Ra’am party demands were “impossible for me and for [Yemina’s number two Ayelet] Shaked. We will not agree to them under any circumstances.”

Also, a demand by Shaked to sit on the committee for judicial appointments threatened to torpedo the new government. That seat had already been promised to Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli. They eventually compromised by agreeing to a rotation, with Michaeli serving first.

“I made a difficult decision. We made history,” Michaeli said in a statement to the media, celebrating the success of the negotiations.

“I pledge to you, Mr. President, that this government will work in the service of all Israeli citizens, those who voted for it and those who did not,” Lapid told President Reuven Rivin.

“It will also respect its opponents, do everything in its power to unite and connect all parts of Israeli society,” he said.

There are still details to iron out among the parties in the coming days.

According to the agreement, Yemina head Naftali Bennett will serve first as prime minister in a rotation with Lapid, although Bennett won 7 seats in the recent national election and Lapid had 17. Lapid came in second to Netanyahu’s Likud, which had 31, but he was unable to form a coalition.

The new “change” goverment includes Yesh Atid, Yemina, New Hope, Blue and White, Labor, Yisrael Beiteinu, Meretz and Ra’am, with the minimum 61 seats necessary.

“Get this through your heads: Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked, Matan Kahana, Nir Orbach, Idit Silman and Abir Kara signed, for the first time in the history of Israel, a coalition agreement with an anti-Zionist party and a supporter of terrorism,” declared Bezalel Smotrich, head of Religious Zionism, which refused to serve together with Ra’am.

“It was possible to form a right-wing government and they torpedoed it and consciously preferred the Left and supporters of terrorism. We will not forget nor forgive,” he said.

“The left is celebrating, but this is a very sad day for the State of Israel. Bennett, Sa’ar and Shaked should be ashamed,” said MK Miki Zohar, chairman of the Likud Knesset faction.

There remains a possibility, however, that the agreement will be all for naught as Yemina MK Uri Orbach announced that he may vote against the coalition and he could be followed by others.