JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opponents announced they have reached a deal to form a new governing coalition, paving the way for the ouster of the longtime Israeli leader.
The dramatic announcement by opposition leader Yair Lapid and his main coalition partner, Naftali Bennett, came moments before a midnight deadline and prevented the country from plunging into what would have been its fifth consecutive election in just over two years.
Earlier in the day, Lapid and Bennett said they agreed to rotate the premiership between them, with Bennett serving as prime minister for the first two years and Lapid as foreign minister. Then the two will switch for the last two years of the term.
Lapid announced a coalition deal with the United Arab List, a small Islamist party whose support is key to securing a coalition.
Lapid said the "government will work to serve all the citizens of Israel including those who aren't members of it, will respect those who oppose it, and do everything in its power to unite all parts of Israeli society," according to CNN.
The coalition agreement must now pass a vote in Israel's parliament.
Netanyahu has been Prime Minister of Israel since 2009, after previously holding the role from 1996 to 1999.