Anti-Netanyahu Bloc Dealt Blow as Bennett Drops Coalition Talks

Chances that rivals could form Israel’s next government and unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu crumbled after one of the key architects backed out of coalition talks.

Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish nationalist Yamina party, said the current outbreak of fighting with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip made it difficult to join a prospective coalition with left-wing and Arab parties, Israeli media reported. Without Yamina, the opposition bloc led by former Finance Minister Yair Lapid will be hard-pressed to piece together a coalition.

Bennett, who has served in previous Netanyahu governments, has renewed negotiations with the prime minister’s Likud party, according to Israeli media. Yamina’s seven lawmakers wouldn’t be enough to give Netanyahu a parliamentary majority, meaning the country could head to a fifth election in 2 1/2 years.

Lapid still has three weeks to try to patch together a coalition, a task he was assigned after Netanyahu failed. If he, too, comes up short, President Reuven Rivlin can ask parliament to nominate any of its members -- including Netanyahu -- to try, or the legislature will dissolve and new balloting will be called.

Lapid had said at the start of the week that he was days away from forming a government, and then the hostilities erupted. Coalition talks were first complicated when Mansour Abbas, the head of the Islamist United Arab, froze negotiations while the fighting raged.

The opposition leader vowed to do what he could to topple Netanyahu, whose corruption trial has been at the center of two years of political paralysis.

“I will turn over every stone to form a government in the coming weeks,” he said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.