Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opponents announced they have reached a deal to form a new governing coalition, paving the way for the removal of the long-time Israeli leader.
The dramatic announcement by opposition leader Yair Lapid and his main coalition partner, Naftali Bennett, came moments before a midnight deadline and prevented the country from plunging into what would have been its fifth consecutive election in just over two years.
Under the agreement, Lapid and Bennett will split the job of prime minister in a rotation. Bennett will serve the first two years, while Lapid is to serve the final two years. The historic deal also includes a small Islamist party, the United Arab List, which would make it the first Arab party ever to be part of a governing coalition.
The agreement still needs to be approved by the Knesset, or parliament, in a vote that is expected to take place early next week. If it goes through, Lapid and a diverse array of partners that span the Israeli political spectrum will end the record-setting 12-year rule of Netanyahu.
Netanyahu, desperate to remain in office while he fights corruption charges, is expected to do everything possible in the coming days to prevent the new coalition from taking power. If he fails, he will be pushed into the opposition