Late Wednesday night, just an hour before the deadline, Knesset Opposition Leader Lapid informed Israeli President Reuven Rivlin that he had successfully won a majority of the parliament to his coalition and would establish a government.
"Congratulations to you," Rivlin tweeted, "and to the heads of the parties on your agreement to form a government. We expect the Knesset will convene as soon as possible to ratify the government, as required."
Congratulations to you @yairlapid and to the heads of the parties on your agreement to form a government. We expect the Knesset will convene as soon as possible to ratify the government, as required.— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) June 2, 2021
"I give you my word that this government will work in the service of all of Israel's citizens, those that voted for it and those that did not. It will respect its opponents, and will do everything it can to unify and unite all parts of Israeli society," Lapid told President Rivlin.
Rivlin picked Lapid, a former finance minister who heads the centrist Yesh Atid, to form a new government last month after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to do so. Lapid has turned to Bennett, who heads the New Right,a right-wing political party, and Yamina alliance, and to a diverse array of smaller parties to try and piece together a majority in the Israeli parliament.
In a statement issued by Lapid's office, he said that the government would be composed of the factions that comprise it, including Yamina and Yesh Atid but also Blue and White, led by Benny Gantz; Yisrael Beytenu, led by Avigdor Lieberman; New Hope, led by Gideon Saar; Labor, led by Marav Michaeli; Meretz, led by Nitzan Horowitz; and Ra'am, or the United Arab List, led by Mansour Abbas.
It is official. Israel has a new government. pic.twitter.com/czpzhVIeR5— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) June 2, 2021
Earlier on Wednesday, local media reported that the United Arab List, a small group that recently split from the larger Joint List of Arab parties, had also joined the coalition. It will be the first time an Arab party has been part of an Israeli government, even though Arabs make up 21% of Israeli citizens and an even larger number live in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. The final piece of the coalition was reportedly New Hope, a recent split from Netanyahu's Likud Party.
Ra'am chairman Abbas said that he had only agreed to join the coalition after reaching "critical agreements on various issues that serve the interests of Arab society," including education, welfare, employment, economic development, planning, construction, and crime and violence, according to Haaretz.
Netanyahu is Israel's longest-serving prime minister, having lead the Israeli government for 12 consecutive years since 2009. He is charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, and faces up to 10 years in prison. This has helped create an unstable political situation in which Israel has had four elections since April 2019.