- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Israeli parliament Sunday convened a session that could end the momentous 12-year reign of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

An unwieldy coalition of eight parties headed by conservative former Netanyahu ally Naftali Bennett and centrist Yair Lapid controls just enough seats in the 120-seats Knesset to oust Mr. Netanyahu, whose supporters have waged a furious last-minute campaign to undermine the alliance.

The vote would be a culmination of two years of political gridlock and four inconclusive elections centered largely on Mr. Netanyahu, whose conservative Likud party still controls the largest single bloc of seats in the Knesset.

Under the coalition agreement, Mr. Bennett would serve as prime minister for the first two years of the new government’s term before giving way to Mr. Lapid.

But Israeli political analysts saying the coalition may struggle to stay in power that long. Its members span the political spectrum, from religious conservatives to far-left parties to the first Israeli Arab party to formally join a ruling coalition.

In the sometimes raucous debate before the vote Sunday, Likud supporters heckled Mr. Bennett repeatedly as he tried to address the Knesset.

Mr. Netanyahu defended his record and vowed not to go quietly into political oblivion.

“Our successes turned Israel from a fringe state to a leading power,” Mr. Netanyahu said at one point.

“If we have to be in opposition, we will do this standing tall — until we bring down this dangerous government and return to lead the state,” he added.

Mr. Netanyahu faces a difficult path personally and professionally. He is under indictment on corruption charges in a legal proceeding that has been stalled while he remained in office.

The new coalition also is expected to introduce a limit of two terms for any prime minister, effectively barring a Netanyahu comeback.

• David R. Sands can be reached at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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