Netanyahu Opponent, Yair Lapid, Given 4 Weeks To Form New Government In Israel


It’s too soon to say that Benjamin Netanyahu’s long run as prime minister of Israel is over, but someone not named Netanyahu does have a chance to succeed him – a former-news-anchor-turned-politician named Yair Lapid. He’s a centrist party leader, and Israel’s president has designated him to try to form a new government. NPR’s Daniel Estrin is in Jerusalem. Daniel, welcome.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: How did Israel get into this situation that they’re in at the moment?

ESTRIN: Well, it all comes down to one man, and that’s Benjamin Netanyahu. He is a polarizing leader. He’s now on trial for corruption, as you know. And for the last two years, he’s not been able to win an election outright, and neither have his rivals. But he has not quit. He’s run for reelection again and again in four different elections, all the while staying in office, fighting his corruption trial from a position of power.

And now what’s happened is that here we are again. Netanyahu could not form a government after the last elections in March, so the president has asked Yair Lapid to give it a try.

INSKEEP: Why would he even have a chance to succeed?

ESTRIN: He’s a familiar face in Israel from his days in television, and he’s been in politics for quite some time. What he brings to the table is that he’s a centrist. So Yair Lapid thinks he has the ability to bring together right-wing parties and left-wing parties, maybe even an Arab party, all for the common goal of ending Netanyahu’s tenure. And he is determined to make this work, so much so that he’s even offering to let Naftali Bennett, who is a hard-right politician, be prime minister first, and then they would rotate.

INSKEEP: Wow. Well, that’s interesting. So the guy who’s been told to form the government might form a government that he doesn’t even lead. Where does that say about where Israel is right now?

ESTRIN: That’s right. He wouldn’t lead it automatically at first. He’d let Naftali Bennett lead it first, and then it would be a rotation. I mean, what this says about Israel right now – the right is clearly dominant, Steve. I mean, even if they disagree on whether to support Netanyahu, right-wing parties won an overwhelming majority of the parliament in all of these recent elections. So no matter what, any government would need to include right-wing parties that are very ideologically driven – they oppose the creation of a Palestinian state- who want to keep Israeli settlers in the West Bank forever.

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You won’t hear the corporate media say very much about the “shadow war” that Israel and Iran are currently engaged in, because the corporate media is absolutely obsessed with covering the internal strife that is tearing the U.S. apart right now.  But if they were doing their jobs correctly, corporate media outlets would be focusing on the Middle East, because the conflict between Israel and Iran could literally spark a major global war at any moment.

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Hundreds protest evictions, police violence in East Jerusalem

MK Ofer Cassif, who was beaten by police at last week’s demonstration, expresses little optimism officers will be held responsible

Palestinian demonstrators wave their national flag at a protest against the eviction of some Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem on Friday, April 16, 2021 (Aaron Boxerman/The Times of Israel)

Hundreds of left-wing activists demonstrated alongside local Palestinians against police brutality and planned evictions in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on Friday afternoon.

Weekly demonstrations have been held for years in Sheikh Jarrah, with activists and Palestinian residents protesting the eviction of some Palestinian families in favor of right-wing religious Jews.

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70,000 Muslim worshipers flock to Jerusalem for 1st Friday prayers of Ramadan

Prayers held peacefully, despite police fears of violence after 3 consecutive nights of rioting; gathering at site is the largest since start of pandemic

Palestinians take part in the first Friday prayers of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, on April 16, 2021. (Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

Tens of thousands of Muslim worshipers attended the first Friday prayers of the holy month of Ramadan at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, in the largest such gathering since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Waqf Islamic affairs council, told AFP an estimated 70,000 worshippers came in from Jerusalem, the West Bank and from Arab communities inside Israel.

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Rivlin thanks global Jewry for standing ‘side by side with Israel’

In a message for the 73rd Independence Day, president says Israeli and Diaspora Jews ‘share a destiny’

President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday thanked global Jewry for standing by Israel in a video message for the Jewish state’s 73rd Independence Day.

“I want to thank all of you for all that you do for Israel and the Jewish people. For being side by side with Israel, for defending Israel, for defending Zionism and the Jewish people,” Rivlin said.

“We must remember that we are one, strong, big and diverse family. We have a shared destiny. A new Israeli and Jewish Hope must be based on unity and diversity, on mutual understanding and shared experiences,” he added.

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Memorial Day sorrow fades into joy as Israel ushers in 73rd Independence Day

At celebratory event in Jerusalem, Netanyahu contravenes tradition by issuing video speech; Pfizer CEO hailed as a Jewish hero, lauds ‘groundbreaking’ vaccination campaign

Israel made the abrupt annual transition from mourning to jubilation on Wednesday night, as Memorial Day drew to a close and its 73rd Independence Day began.

Somber speeches, ceremonies in cemeteries and news reports on fallen soldiers and terror victims gave way to celebration as the annual state ceremony began at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl.

Local authorities around the country held Independence Day events in person, after events last year were mostly canceled or went online due to the nationwide virus lockdown. Now, the plummeting infection rate has allowed for most restrictions to be lifted, though some limits on gatherings remain in place.

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Iran’s Zarif blames Israel for Natanz incident, vows revenge

Contrary to last year’s attack on Natanz, Iran has chosen not to shy away from directly blaming Israel and singling out its efforts to derail nuclear talks in Vienna.

Tehran, Iran – Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif vowed revenge against Israel for an attack on Iran’s main nuclear facilities at Natanz but said it will not stop high-level talks to restore the country’s nuclear deal with world powers.

In a private meeting with lawmakers on Monday, Zarif pointed out that top Israeli officials explicitly said they would try to prevent multilateral efforts to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which would lead to lifting United States sanctions on Iran.

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Bennett meets with Netanyahu again amid intensive coalition talks

Negotiating teams from Likud and Yamina reportedly record progress in negotiations, though prospect of government still slim

Naftali Bennett met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the second successive day on Tuesday, after the Yamina leader said his party supports the formation of a right-wing government with Likud and stressed that averting a fifth round of elections in two years was his overarching goal.

Yamina, which won seven seats, has been negotiating with Likud over the creation of a government following last month’s inconclusive election.

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Deri, Smotrich and Gafni refusing to give rotation to Bennett

Channel 12 News commentator Amit Segal: Even if Netanyahu and Bennett go together, Smotrich vehemently refuses to go to a government that relies on Ra’am.

Aryeh Deri, Moshe Gafni and Bezalel Smotrich, the leaders of the parties in the bloc with supports Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are not prepared that in the negotiations on the formation of a government, Netanyahu will propose to Yamina chairman, Naftali Bennett, a rotation in the role of Prime Minister, Channel 12 News reported on Sunday.

Deri, Gafni and Smotrich argue that it is inconceivable to give Bennett a rotation – when they have more power than he does or the same power as he does.

Channel 12 News political commentator Amit Segal said, “Even if Netanyahu and Bennett go together definitively, the problem is Smotrich, who vehemently refuses to go to a government that relies on the votes of Ra’am – so in such a situation, Netanyahu cannot form a government – and the dates on which the mandate to form a government is still in his hands are running out without any significant progress on the horizon.”

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Bombed cars, shooting leave two dead, one injured in suspected gangland violence

Car blown up in Netanya, hours later another explodes in Holon killing one; later, man shot dead, another seriously injured in Ashkelon

Security forces inspect the scene where a man died in a car explosion in Holon, on April 11, 2021. (Flash90)

A bloody day of suspected gangland violence on Sunday left two men dead and another seriously injured, as cars were blown up in two cities and a shooting took place in a third.

The violence began in the central region coastal city of Netanya, where a bomb blew up a car parked in a residential neighborhood.

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