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After a decade of ‘Bibism’, the Israeli right has decided it’s time for change

Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and former defense Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the Yamina party

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, was closer than ever on Sunday night to finally leave office.

A series of extraordinary political twists have produced a diverse coalition containing left-wing parties, right-wing parties that support the West Bank settlement movement, centrist parties, and the party that represents the Islamic Movement in Israel, whose voters are mostly Palestinian-Israelis. What they all have in common is their revulsion for Benjamin Netanyahu, who is standing trial on a string of corruption charges.

The government has not yet been sworn in, and the Israeli political system is used to seeing Netanyahu wriggle out of every political crisis at the last minute. But this time, most of the players believe, his chances are slimmer than ever.

The “change coalition”, as it is known, looked like a non-starter a week ago. Its designated leader, former defense minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Yamina right-wing party, announced that the renewed fighting with Gaza and the riots in Israel between Arabs and Jews had convinced him that this coalition stood no chance.

A few days ago, it became clear once more that there was no chance of Netanyahu establishing a right-wing government, and Bennett resumed talks with t