Israel’s “change” bloc, headed by Yesh Atid Party chairman Yair Lapid, initiated a move to replace Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin, multiple media outlets reported on Thursday.

The move followed Lapid’s announcement to Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday night that he would be able to form the next government.

Levin hails from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party. The coalition-in-formation’s desired replacement is Yesh Atid’s Mickey Levy.

The speaker of the Knesset controls the parliament’s voting schedule and could delay or hasten a vote of confidence in the proposed new government. If the “change” coalition succeeds in ousting Levin, a vote of confidence could take place as soon as next week. If it does not succeed, Levin could delay the vote until June 14, according to Israel’s Channel 12.

The aim of the swift move was to prevent Netanyahu and his allies from having more time to apply pressure on members of the announced coalition, already fraught with ideological rifts, to retract their support for the petition to replace Levin. One such member, Yamina Party MK Nir Orbach, asked that his name be removed from the petition, robbing it of the necessary 60 signatures.

Members of the Joint Arab List, which does not officially support the “change” bloc, reportedly offered to attach their signatures to the petition. According to Israel’s Army Radio, however, the New Hope Party, headed by Gideon Sa’ar, says it won’t permit that.

Army Radio also reported that Netanyahu called an emergency meeting on Thursday with Likud delegates, officials from Judea and Samaria, and his haredi backers to discuss how to “put the brakes” on the announced coalition.

According to the coalition agreement, although Lapid was given the mandate to form the next government, he will rotate in the role of premier with Yamina Party leader Naftali Bennett, who will serve first at the helm, during which time Lapid will become foreign minister.


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