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Israeli opposition: Netanyahu could exit within days, but obstacles remain

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid, chairman of the Yesh Atid Party, speaks during a news conference Monday in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI
Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid, chairman of the Yesh Atid Party, speaks during a news conference Monday in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

May 31 (UPI) -- Israeli parties seeking to dislodge Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister must work together to unify the country in the face of incitements to violence, a key opposition leader said Monday.

Yair Lapid, chairman of the Yesh Atid Party, said that while a "new era" of Israeli political history after Netanyahu could begin "within a week," disagreements among an emerging coalition of centrist, right-wing and liberal politicians must be ironed out before a proposed new government headed by Yamina Party leader Naftali Bennett can be put in place.

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"There are still plenty of obstacles in the way of the formation of the new government," Lapid said at a news conference at the Israeli Knesset in Tel Aviv. "Our first test is to see if we can find smart compromises in the coming days to achieve the greater goal."

Lapid's comments came a day after Israeli opposition parties announced a plan to form a unity government to unseat Netanyahu, Israeli's longest-serving prime minister.

Bennett, Netanyahu's former defense minister, announced during a televised address that he will form a government with Lapid, who has been tasked with leading the negotiations.

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Under the proposed "government of change," Bennett would take over as prime minister, later to be succeeded by Lapid.

Four inconclusive elections held in the last two years have allowed Netanyahu to remain in power despite rising dissatisfaction with his 12-year rule among right-wing leaders outside of his own Likud Party.

Former allies such as Bennett and New Hope Party leader Gideon Sa'ar earlier this month wholly rejected his overtures to form a new government following the latest inconclusive election.

Netanyahu on Sunday reacted with anger toward Bennett, calling his backing of a new government "the fraud of the century" that would result in "a danger for the security of Israel."

Bennett and and fellow Yamina leader Ayelet Shaked have received numerous death threats after the comments and on Monday were under the protection of stepped-up security details, the Jerusalem Post reported.

"If you want to know why we have to change the leadership in Israel, go and listen to Netanyahu's speech [from Sunday]," Lapid told reporters.

"It was a dangerous and unhinged speech by someone who has no limits anymore. That's exactly why we must form the government we're trying to form. A government of people from the right, left and center who say to the Israeli public, 'We know how to work together and we don't hate one another.'"

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Campaign posters for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hang outside a polling station in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

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