Israel's right-wing leader Naftali comes in to unseat PM Netanyahutext_fields
Jerusalem: In what would be the end of a political era, Israeli nationalist hardliner Naftali Bennett on Sunday said he would join a governing coalition that could end the rule of the country's longest-serving leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Bennett after a meeting with his own party, Yamina on Sunday asserted that he would do everything to form a national unity government with his friend and opposition leader, Yair Lapid to save the country from a tailspin and return to Israel to its course.
"I am announcing today that I intend to work with all my might towards establishing a unity government with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid," Bennett said in his speech. "It's either a fifth election or a unity government."
According to local media reports on the deal, Bennett who previously headed the defence and education ministries would become prime minister for the first two years of a term, with Lapid, 57, replacing him for the final two.
The swearing-in of the new government, and with it Netanyahu's relinquishing of high office, could happen within a week.
Bennett's announcement came shortly after an armed conflict with Palestinians in Gaza that many thoughts had improved Netanyahu's chances of hanging on to his post.
A short while after Bennett spoke, Netanyahu made a statement of his own in which he denounced the Yamina party leader as a man who cared about nothing other than becoming prime minister, CNN reported.
He also demanded the right-wing lawmakers within the Opposition alliance to abandon Bennett for his right-wing bloc and accused that it was not unity, healing or democracy but an opportunistic government. He further asserted that such a government of capitulation, fraud and inertia must not be formed.
Netanyahu, the leader of the right-wing Likud party, has been in office since 2009, after an earlier stint from 1996 to 1999. His 15 years in power make him Israel's longest-serving leader
Netanyahu, 71, who also faces trial on fraud, bribery and breach of trust charges, which he denies, has clung to power throughout political turmoil that has seen four inconclusive elections in under two years.