Israel ‘change’ coalition poised to end ‘King Bibi’ era
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday faced the likely end of his 12-year rule as a fragile alliance of his political enemies hoped to oust him in a parliament vote and form a new government.
Embattled Netanyahu, in typically combative style, vowed that "if it's our destiny to be in the opposition, we'll do so with our heads high until we take down this bad government and return to lead the country our way".
Beloved as "King Bibi" by his right-wing supporters and condemned as the "crime minister" by his critics, the hawkish Netanyahu has long been the dominant, and increasingly divisive, figure in Israeli politics and the country's longest-serving premier.
If the fragile eight-party alliance wins a razor-thin majority in the 120-seat Knesset, Netanyahu, 71, will be replaced as premier by his one-time ally Naftali Bennett, a right-wing Jewish nationalist and former tech millionaire.
Bennett, in a speech to the Knesset interrupted by raucous boos, promised the new government, a motley coalition of ideologically divergent parties, would "represents all of Israel".
The upcoming crunch vote will either end Netanyahu's record time in office or, in case of a last-minute upset, return Israel to a stalemate likely to trigger a fifth general election since 2019.