Lapid bids to lead “unity government” to displace Netanyahu

Opposition leader Yair Lapid is counting on PM Binyamin Netanyahu failing to meet his May 4 deadline for forming a new post-election government. The Yesh Atid leader will step up with a claim to lead a “broad unity government” in a prime-time TV speech Sunday night after returning from two weeks in the US.

The president assigned the task to the Likud leader since, while neither claimed a majority for a coalition government, Lapid’s party and his planned “bloc for change” came in second.

Netanyahu has been obstructed in his efforts to set up a right-wing government by National Religious Party leader Bezalel Smotrich’s adamant refusal to support a coalition that depends on the Islamist Arab Ra’am for for a 61-member majority. The PM has held fruitful negotiations with Yemina’s Naftali Bennett, one of the two Likud defectors, but the second defector, Gideon Saar, has rebuffed his feelers to “come back home.” Lapid is scrambling to gain the support of both together with Arab parliamentary backing.

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