Tel Aviv: For the first time in six decades of Israeli history, parties with bitter ideological differences united to form a government to oust the incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu whose governance would soon be ended for want of enough numbers in the Parliament.
In the contest for forming the next government, the main opposition party leader Yair Lapid secured the backing of the United Arab List, a small party of Islamists and the far-right politician Naftali Bennett. The United Arab List that signed to join the government at the last moment is the first Arab party to be participating in Israeli governance.
The Israeli opposition leader Lapid had handed over his note to President Reuven Rivlin of securing enough support to form the government before a midnight deadline. The President had called on Lapid after Netanyahu went short of enough numbers in the Parliament to continue in the government.
Neither Lapid nor Netanyahu has a 61-seat majority in the 120-seat Knesset to form an independent government. Reports said that Netanyahu will continue to woo other lawmakers to defect until the transition happens.
Under the new proposal, Lapid will allow his formal rival Naftali Bennett to take the Prime Ministerial seat for the next two years. It is expected that the new change would take time to happen since a vote of lawmakers on the deal should take place to end Netanyahu's 12-year stretch in power. The vote is expected to take place in the next week.
Bennett, an Orthodox Jewish nationalist, is a strong advocate of settlement in the Palestinian territories and opposed the recognition of an independent Palestinian state. He is also a controversial figure who wanted the annexure of the West Bank and is known for making incendiary comments about the Palestinians.
Experts doubt how a coalition government with diverse ideological background could ensure tenure in the power. Bennett, who was the Education Minister in the previous Netanyahu government, will join with parties that have outright opposition to the colonising of Palestinian lands like Meretz, Labor and Yisrael Beiteinu, a hardline secular party led by a Moldova-born settler, Avigdor Lieberman.
Meanwhile, Arab List leader Mansour Abbas said that the decision was difficult. He sees the coalition of his party, for the first time in the ruling government, has a lot of things to offer for the benefit of Arab society, and Israeli society in general.
A photo of Abbas, Lapid and Bennett sitting and smiling together that appeared soon after the agreement signing astonished Israelis. Lapid is a self-proclaimed centrist and describes himself as a "security hawk". He has a balanced stand on ending the occupation.