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Israeli "change coalition" announces new government to oust Netanyahu

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid has notified President Reuven Rivlin that he managed to form a power-sharing government that will oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if it survives a confidence vote in the Knesset.

Why it matters: We are on the verge of a seismic event in Israeli politics, with Israel's longest prime minister and the man who has so thoroughly dominated the country's politics and relations with the world for over a decade on the verge of being replaced. But he's not out quite yet.

Driving the news: Right-winger Naftali Bennett would serve first as prime minister for two years with the centrist Lapid then rotating into the job. The announcement was made possible by the unprecedented decision of the Islamist Ra'am party — which would be the first Arab party to enter an Israeli government — to unite with Bennett and Lapid.

  • With Ra'am as well as the right-wing “New Hope” party, which also signed a coalition agreement, Lapid and Bennett currently have 61 members of the Knesset — the exact number needed for a majority.

Yes, but: Some of the coalition agreements are not yet final. They'll have to be presented to the Knesset before a vote is hold on the government in 12 days.

  • In the interim, Netanyahu is expected to try to sabotage the new coalition and press several of its right-wing members to defect.

The latest: Under pressure from Netanyahu and his supporters, one member of Bennett’s party announced three weeks ago that he would vote against the government.

  • In recent hours, another member of Bennett’s party also said he was considering following suit — which would forced Lapid and Bennett to get at least one member of the Arab Joint List to vote in favor of the government or abstain.

Between the lines: Bennett, a tech entrepreneur and former Netanyahu protege, would become prime minister despite only winning seven seats in the election.

  • He was able to play the kingmaker role in the scramble to form a government, with both Netanyahu and Lapid needing his support.
  • While he is a conservative, particularly on Israel-Palestine issues, he will be constrained by the broad range of parties in the coalition and the fact that Lapid will have a veto on his policies.

What to watch: The last-minute snags in the negotiations over the past few days sent a clear signal of how fragile the government will be if it's formed and how much pressure Netanyahu and his supporters will be able to exert on its right-wing members.

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