Israeli opposition parties have teamed up and formed an alliance in a bid to dislodge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyau from office.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid announced the deal just minutes before a midnight Wednesday deadline, prompting celebrations into the early hours by the premier’s opponents.
On paper, the prospective coalition commands a slender majority in parliament but a confidence vote is not expected for several days, giving Netanyahu time to lure potential defectors among the unlikely friends ranged against him
Analysts have warned that with the threat of possible jail time hanging over him in his ongoing trial on corruption charges, the 71-year-old is unlikely to allow his record 12 straight years to end without a messy fight.
The new coalition would see religious nationalist, Naftali Bennett, serve as prime minister for two years before Lapid, a secular centrist, would take the helm.
Should last-minute defections destroy the “change” alliance, Israel would likely have to hold yet another election, the fifth in just over two years.
Tamar Hermann, a political scientist at the Israel Democracy Institute warned:
_Opening the champagne right now is a bit hasty._
Lapid, 57, a former TV presenter who heads the centrist Yesh Atid party, put his own prime ministerial ambitions on hold to broker the coalition deal.
The announcement capped four hectic weeks of negotiations since President Reuven Rivlin tasked Lapid with trying to form a government after Netanyahu failed.
Bennett, 49, an estranged former apprentice of Netanyahu, was the lynchpin of the deal to unseat him.
On Sunday, Bennett, head of the hard-right Yamina bloc, announced he would join Lapid to end the “madness”.
He said four elections had already proven to “all of us that there is simply no right-wing government headed by Netanyahu.”
Bennett added that they were to choose between a fifth election and a unity government.