Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that a proposed unity government aimed at replacing him would be a danger to the country’s security.
On May 30, Naftali Bennett, leader of the small hardline Yamina party, had made a surprising announcement that he would seek to form a coalition government with the Israeli PM’s opponents headed by opposition leader Yair Lapid. Mr Netanyahu, who faces serious corruption charges and could go to jail, fell short of a decisive majority at a general election in March. It was the country’s fourth inconclusive vote in two years – and again he failed to secure coalition allies.
“Don’t form a left wing government. Such a government is a danger to Israel’s security and future,” said Netanyahu.
Mr Netanyahu’s opponents have until June 2 to form a government.
In one of statement, Netanyahu accused Bennett of betraying the Israeli right wing and urged nationalist politicians not to join what he called a leftist government. Despite his electoral dominance, Netanyahu has become a polarising figure since he was indicted on charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in late 2019. Each of the past four elections was seen as a referendum on Netanyahu’s fitness to rule, and each ended in deadlock.
Naming left-wing leaders who, he hinted, could weaken Israel’s security cabinet, he asked: “”What impact will that have on Israel’s deterrent capability? How will we look to our enemies? What will they say in Iran and Gaza?”
Mr Netanyahu accused Mr Bennett of “misleading the public” and of carrying out “the fraud of the century” – a reference to the Yamina party leader’s previous public promises not to join forces with Yair Lapid, the centrist opposition leader.