Eight Israeli political groups reached an agreement on June 2 to form a new government. What’s most striking about the new coalition is that it includes political parties ranging from the far-right Yamina Party of Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett, a nationalist and religious group that rejects creating a Palestinian state, to centrist and leftist parties and includes the United Arab List, or Raam, which represents Israel’s Arab citizens and wholly supports Palestinian statehood. The new government, if approved by the Israeli Parliament, would push the caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu out of office for the first time since 2009. And this executive reshuffle would come only two weeks after a ceasefire ended a 10-day war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a conflict that appeared to strengthen Netanyahu’s position. How did this coalition come together to unseat Israel’s longest-serving prime minister?

According to Hussein Ibish, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, the only thing unifying this disparate coalition is their desire to get rid of Netanyahu. Netanyahu has been a dominant figure in Israeli politics since he was elected as prime minister in 1996, and he has survived four elections in the past two years. As Ibish sees it, many members of the new governing coalition believe they can attract Netanyahu’s voters, if only they could somehow depose him. For that reason, Ibish expects that this new cabinet will only serve as a brief placeholder until Israel can hold another general election.

Michael Bluhm: After four elections in two years, why did this coalition arise now?

Hussein Ibish: Because the four elections were inconclusive, and the main reason that they were inconclusive was that they didn’t give any of the other forces sufficient ground to oust Netanyahu, who’s been sitting there for decades. It became clearer to all the other forces that the easiest way to move past this impasse is to get Netanyahu out of the way and then see if that creates a new dynamic in a post-Netanyahu coalition. If not—and I think we should say, probably not—then eventually return to the polls and see what a post-Netanyahu election looks like. I see this as a decision by the rest of the Israeli political establishment to try to move past Netanyahu.

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