Israel opposition parties agree to form new unity government

Israeli opposition parties have reached an agreement to form a new government that would end Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year tenure as prime minister.

Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party, announced an eight-faction coalition had been formed.

Under a rotation arrangement, the head of the right-wing Yamina party, Naftali Bennett, would serve as prime minister first before handing over to Lapid.

There still needs to be a parliamentary vote before the government is sworn in.

In a statement. Lapid said he had informed President Reuven Rivlin of the agreement, adding:  “I pledge that this government will work in the service of all Israeli citizens, those who voted for it and those who did not.

“It will respect its opponents and do everything in its power to unite and connect all parts of Israeli society.”

An image carried on Israeli media showed Lapid, Bennett and Arab Islamist Raam party leader, Mansour Abbas, signing the agreement, a deal many thought impossible.

This is the first time in decades an Arab-Israeli party has joined government. Other parties representing Arab-Israelis – who make up 20% of the population – have said they will oppose a government led by Bennett, who rejects the concept of a Palestinian state.

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