Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu looks to stop new coalition with last-ditch move

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making a last-ditch effort to stay in power by trying to persuade right-wing lawmakers to join him so the new coalition to oust him lacks the lawmakers to become a majority.

“All right-wing Knesset members must oppose this dangerous left-wing government,” Netanyahu said on social media Thursday.

In making the eleventh-hour plea, he accused right-wing foe Naftali Bennett of selling the Negev to Ra’am, a left-wing Israeli party. Bennett and his party, the Jewish Home, recently joined a 61-seat majority to give a new coalition a majority in the 120-seat parliament.

The change coalition is united around anti-Netanyahu sentiment but contains multiple factions, including the nationalist Bennett, the centrist Yair Lapid and the Islamist United Arab List.

Lapid on Wednesday announced the coalition by saying he had told President Reuven Rivlin that he had formed an agreement with Bennett, the former defense minister — effectively ending Netanyahu’s reign as Israeli prime minister.

“This government will work for all the citizens of Israel, those that voted for it and those that didn’t. It will do everything to unite Israeli society,” he said on Twitter.

Arab List leader Mansour Abbas celebrated their inclusion in the new coalition.

“This is the first time an Arab party is a partner in the formation of a government,” Abbas reportedly said. “This agreement has a lot of things for the benefit of Arab society, and Israeli society in general.”

Netanyahu’s desperate effort comes after the corruption scandal-scarred prime minister’s party and allies in a March election came up short of the 61 seats needed to form a governing majority in the Knesset.

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