Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's political fate to be decided on Sunday

The embattled prime minister is expected to continue attempts to disrupt government formation

The political fate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could be decided on Sunday when parliament votes to approve a new government, Israel's Army Radio said on Tuesday, quoting parliamentary speaker Yariv Levin.

"The debate and vote on the new government will take place Sunday, June 13, 2021 during a special session of parliament," Mr Levin, a Netanyahu ally, said in a statement.

If the coalition wins the vote, the new government will be sworn in on the same day, ending the reign of Mr Netanyahu, the longest-serving prime minister in the country’s history.

Opposition politicians have called for the vote to be held soon as possible to get the new government under way and to minimise the amount of time Mr Netanyahu has to peel away supporters from the new coalition.

The new government would be headed by Naftali Bennett, an ultranationalist former Netanyahu ally, for two years, after which centrist Yair Lapid would become prime minister.

Tensions between Mr Netanyahu and opposition politicians have been rising since the formation of the new alliance between Mr Bennett and Mr Lapid. On Sunday, Mr Bennett urged Mr Netanyahu to stop trying to derail the new government.

Mr Netanyahu’s supporters have launched a blistering campaign against his opponents, including death threats and raucous protests outside their homes that has forced the Knesset to beef up their security details.

Mr Netanyahu has accused his erstwhile right-wing allies of betrayal for allying with leftists and the Islamic conservative Raam party.

The so-called "change coalition" appears to be holding together despite the attacks and its ideological differences.

“This government is being formed because it’s the majority,” Mr Lapid said on Monday, insisting that it would serve all Israelis and be based on “trust, on decency, on goodwill.”

“These past few days proved how much we need change. If the leadership uses violence and incitement against Knesset members, against their children, against the very essence of the democratic process, then we need change,” Mr Lapid said.

If the coalition government fails to win the vote, it would trigger Israel's fifth general election in less than two years.

Israel last went to the polls in March. The governing coalition that Mr Lapid built, just minutes before the end of a 28-day presidential mandate last week, followed an unsuccessful attempt by Mr Netanyahu to do the same.

The possible political transition comes amid heightened tensions following weeks of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in Jerusalem that ignited a wave of ethnic violence in Israeli cities and triggered an 11-day Gaza war.

Weakened by charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust involving alleged favours to media tycoons and expensive gifts he received, Mr Netanyahu and his allies – as well as his rivals – had failed to win a governing majority in four elections over the past two years.

Mr Bennett responded on Sunday to Mr Netanyahu's charges of election fraud urging him to "let go" and "not leave scorched earth behind you".

Right-wing protests have been held outside the homes of several members of Mr Bennett's Yamina party, and Israel's domestic security chief has warned about the prospect of political violence.

Updated: June 8, 2021 03:58 PM

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