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AFP
May 4, 2021

Netanyahu says would stand aside for a year to avoid ‘left-wing’ govt

World

AFP
May 4, 2021

OCCUPIED AL-QUDS: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he would let his estranged former protege Naftali Bennett serve as premier ahead of him in a coalition to prevent a "left-wing government".

But Bennett, a right-wing nationalist who emerged as a kingmaker following Israel’s inconclusive March 23 vote, swiftly dampened the notion that a deal with Netanyahu was in the works. After his Likud party won the most seats in the vote -- Israel’s fourth in less than two years -- Netanyahu earned a 28-day mandate to form a coalition.

That mandate expires at midnight Tuesday-Wednesday. The election further highlighted Israel’s deep and varied political divisions. For Netanyahu, securing a coalition likely means reaching an agreement among right-wingers including Bennett, ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, and also the conservative Islamic Raam party.

Netanyahu, Israel’s longest serving premier and the first to be indicted in office, has become a deeply divisive figure. The 71-year-old said he would step back temporarily if that helped the right-wing retain power. "To prevent a left-wing government, I told Naftali Bennett I’d be willing to accept his request for a rotation deal in which he’d be prime minister first for a year," Netanyahu said.