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Israel’s Opposition Leader Says Netanyahu ‘Must Go Now’

Yair Lapid, who leads Israel’s parliamentary opposition, has said that he would join an Israeli government led by the right as long as it excluded the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and some of Mr. Netanyahu’s hard-line partners.

“Israel has lost faith in the prime minister,” Mr. Lapid told the Israeli network Channel 12 in an interview on Wednesday, adding, “We cannot allow ourselves to conduct an extended war with a prime minister that the public does not trust.”

Mr. Netanyahu “must go now,” Mr. Lapid said.

Israel’s political opposition has been fiercely critical of Mr. Netanyahu’s leadership and many have called for his removal in the past. But after the Hamas-led terrorist attacks that the Israeli government has said left more than 1,200 dead last month, most opposition parties rallied around the war effort.

One opposition faction — the National Unity alliance, led by Benny Gantz — joined the emergency wartime government under Mr. Netanyahu. Mr. Lapid, whose Yesh Atid party controls 24 of 120 seats in the Israeli Parliament, or Knesset, rejected an offer to also join.

But public anger against Mr. Netanyahu has mounted since the Hamas attack, with some accusing him of failing to prevent the surprise assault and of overseeing a sluggish government response.

Mr. Netanyahu has refused to say whether he bears any responsibility for the disastrous failure to prevent the assault. Other senior officials, including Israel’s finance minister and several top security chiefs, have publicly said that they failed in their duty to protect the country’s citizens.

Mr. Netanyahu briefly appeared to blame Israel’s security establishment in a post on social media roughly three weeks after the Hamas attack, saying that officials had failed to warn him of the danger. He later apologized for that comment, but has maintained that questions of responsibility should wait until after the war.

Under Mr. Lapid’s proposal, Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party would lead a “government of national reconstruction” after choosing a new leader.

The proposal is almost certainly a nonstarter for Mr. Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, who has weathered successive political crises, three criminal cases, and a year and a half out of office before he returned to power in late 2022. So far, no one in his Likud party has publicly discussed ousting him.

In a statement, Likud called Mr. Lapid’s remarks “saddening and shameful,” accusing him of playing politics during wartime and of attempting to replace Mr. Netanyahu with a government that would establish a Palestinian state.


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