Israel's 'change' coalition seals pact on governance ahead of confidence vote

Knesset approval on Sunday would end Benjamin Netanyahu's long reign and two years of political uncertainty

United Arab List party leader Mansour Abbas, Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid, sit together in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, Israel June 2, 2021. Picture taken June 2, 2021. United Arab List Raam/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

The new Israeli government set to end Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year tenure as prime minister signed its final coalition agreements on Friday, pointedly including term limits.

The coalition of parties from far-right to left is expected to focus mostly on economic and social issues rather than risk exposing internal rifts by trying to address major diplomatic issues such as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Mr Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving leader, will be succeeded on Sunday by a coalition that includes for the first time a party from Israel's Arab minority.

Under a power-sharing agreement, Naftali Bennett, of the ultra-nationalist Yamina party, will serve as prime minister for two years. He will then hand over to Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid party.

Mr Bennett said on Friday that the coalition "brings to an end two and a half years of political crisis", although it was unclear how long the coalition's disparate elements would hold together.

Among the agreements outlined by parties in what Mr Lapid described as a "unity government" are a limit on a prime minister's time in office to two terms – or eight years.

Other pledges include a push for new infrastructure including hospitals, a university and an airport; and passing a two-year budget to help stabilise the country's finances.

Israel's prolonged political stalemate has left the country still using a pro-rated version of a base 2019 budget that was ratified in mid-2018.

The coalition deal includes the key demand of the Arab Ra'am party to allocate more than 53 billion shekels ($16 billion) to improve infrastructure and welfare in Arab towns, and curbing violent crime there.

The new government will also set an "overall plan for transportation" in the occupied West Bank and a general goal to "ensure Israel's interests" in areas of the Palestinian territory that are under Israeli control.

The coalition parties agreed to maintain the "status quo" on issues of religion and state, with Mr Bennett's Yamina party to have a veto.

Possible reforms include breaking up an ultra-Orthodox monopoly on overseeing which foods are kosher, and decentralising authority over Jewish conversions.

The parties also agreed to decriminalise marijuana and move to regulate the market.

EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS