Outgoing coalition party chairs are scheduled to meet on Tuesday in preparation to sit in the opposition, as far-right Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu will be tasked today, Sunday, by President Isaac Herzog, to forming a government.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid on past week with Israeli army officers (Photo: Lapid’s Facebook page)
Herzog on Friday concluded formal consultations with all parties in the Knesset to hear their recommendations for who should form the next government. Netanyahu received the support of parties holding 64 seats in the 120-seat Knesset and Hadash-Ta’al declined to recommend anyone for the post. Only Yesh Atid and Labor recommended Yair Lapid as their candidate to form the next government.
One of Netanyahu’s coalition partners, far-right and racist lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir, has pledged to deport Hadash lawmakers, give occupation soldiers more freedom to shoot Palestinians and end Palestinian autonomy in parts of the occupied West Bank. Ben Gvir paid tribute last Thursday to the late racist rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach party was banned in Israel and outlawed as a terrorist organization in the United States. Ben Gvir’s possible appointment to a key ministry, such as public security, could inflame tensions with Israel’s Arab-Palestinian national minority and escalate hostilities in volatile occupied East Jerusalem. Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman told Associated Press that she expressed those fears to Herzog on Friday, saying the government’s potential inclusion of “people who were previously convicted of supporting terrorism … is keeping us awake at night.”
On Friday, Prime Minister Lapid invited National Unity chair Benny Gantz, Yisrael Beytenu’s Avigdor Liberman, Labor’s Merav Michaeli and Islamist Ra’am’s Mansour Abbas to meet and discuss their strategy going into the opposition, amid animosity from his coalition partners over their election loss. Ayman Odeh’s Hadash-Ta’al — which is also in the Knesset’s opposition but did not sit in the current coalition — was notably left out of the invitation. In the lead-up to the election, Lapid promised he would not sit in a coalition with the joint slate, and condemned remarks by MK Touma-Sliman referring to five slain members of a Palestinian armed group as “martyrs” and asserting that their “resistance was a response to the occupation.”