Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday slammed the new emerging coalition that will unseat him from power as “dangerous and leftwing,” and accused his political rival Naftali Bennett, who will succeed him as prime minister, of “selling out.”
Netanyahu convened an “emergency meeting” on Thursday with right-wing religious allies to discuss potentially thwarting the new unity government before it is sworn into office in the next 12 days.
“All Knesset members who were elected with the votes of the right must oppose this dangerous left-wing government,” he tweeted.
Bennett, from the religious right-wing Yamina party, and Mansour Abbas, from the Islamist Ra’am party, reached an agreement with opposition leader Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid during marathon negotiations between eight parties on the last day of the 28-day mandate.
While Yamina barely won six percent of the vote in the March elections, Bennett earned the title of kingmaker and as such was able to negotiate a power-sharing deal with Lapid.
The proposed government would see a rotational premiership in which Bennett would serve as prime minister for the first two years and Lapid for the following two. It will be the first time in Israel’s recent history that an Arab party will sit in the ruling coalition. It will also be the first time Israel has a religious Jew as prime minister.
Netanyahu is expected to work on encouraging defectors from the right-wing elements of the emerging coalition. According to Israeli media, Netanyahu met Thursday with the heads of his rightwing and ultra-Orthodox coalition allies to who came up with suggestions of mass rallies to protest the Lapid-led coalition.
Netanyahu condemned Bennett for his hypocrisy in striking deals with Ra’am, and posted an old video clip of Bennett saying that Abbas “visited terrorist murderers in jail” after a 1992 attack in which Arab Israelis killed three soldiers.
Yamina fought back, issuing its own list of deals that Netanyahu’s Likud party offered Ra’am for its support.
Netanyahu last week singled out the prospective government’s left-wing partners, namely Meretz and Labor, as being clueless in the fight against Hamas in Gaza and Iran.
“What impact will that have on Israel’s deterrent capability? How will we look to our enemies? What will they say in Iran and Gaza? What will they do in Iran and Gaza? What will they say in the corridors of the administration in Washington?
“They wholeheartedly support that dangerous nuclear agreement. They’ll fight Hamas?” he said, adding that it was a “joke.”