Netanyahu makes deal with far-right party ahead of Israeli election
JERUSALEM – Reuters
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forged an election alliance with a far-right party on Feb. 20 as his strongest challengers formed an alliance too.
The deal, announced by Netanyahu’s Likud and the ultranationalist Jewish Home party, was aimed at solidifying a potential right-wing coalition after the April 9 parliamentary election.
Opinion polls predict Netanyahu’s Likud will win the most parliamentary seats and will be in a position to form a governing coalition of rightist and religious parties similar to the one he now heads.
But the surveys also show that an alliance between two of his strongest centrist opponents, former armed forces chief Benny Gantz, who leads the Resilience Party, and ex-finance minister Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid faction, could spark an upset.
Gantz and Lapid met on Feb. 20 and joined forces. Resilience, in a statement, said Gantz, Lapid and Moshe Yaalon, a former defense minister, “decided to establish a joint list that will comprise the new Israeli ruling party.”
Gantz and Lapid, who met overnight, agreed on a “rotation for the prime minister’s post” in which Gantz would hold office for the first two-and-a-half years of a new government’s term before Lapid took over.
In their campaigns, both candidates have portrayed Netanyahu, who will become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister this summer if he wins the April 9 ballot, as haughty with power and criminally corrupt.
Moving to counter that prospective partnership, Netanyahu agreed to set aside two cabinet posts for Jewish Home on condition it agreed to a merger with the Jewish Power party.