Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Bennett (L) with Netanyahu in 2015. Photo: Gali Tibbon/AFP via Getty Images

In a dramatic shift that comes amid fighting in the Gaza strip and clashes between Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel, right-wing kingmaker Naftali Bennett has announced he will no longer seek an alternative government to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Why it matters: Bennett had been on the verge of a power-sharing deal with centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid that would have made him prime minister for two years until Lapid rotated into the job. Without Bennett, Lapid has no path to a majority, and Israel will almost certainly head for its fifth election since 2019 with Netanyahu still in his post.

The big picture: After yet another indecisive election in March, Netanyahu had the first opportunity to form a government but failed to do so. The mandate then passed to Lapid last week, leaving Netanyahu in his most vulnerable position politically since he became prime minister in 2009.

  • In addition to convincing Bennett to join forces with his center-left bloc, Lapid also needed the support of an Arab party to reach a majority. Thus he was also negotiating with Mansour Abbas, the leader of the Islamist Ra'am party.

Driving the news: Those negotiations were suspended after the fighting in Gaza started on Monday, with Abbas suspending his participation and Bennett also wavering.

  • Just as the crisis made it politically difficult for Abbas to consider joining the next Israeli government, it also increased the pressure on the conservative Bennett to reject any pact with Ra'am, which is a sister movement to Hamas.

Bennett announced on Thursday that an alternative government was no longer on the table, and said he would instead negotiate with Netanyahu over a potential right-wing government.

  • He cited the "emergency situation" in Israeli cities that have both Israeli and Arab citizens, which he said "demands the use of force and sending the military into the cities” — something that would be impossible in a government backed by Ra'am.
  • Lapid gave a speech shortly thereafter and said Bennett was making a mistake. He stressed that he would continue to try to form a government for the 20 days remaining in his mandate. “If we can’t, we will go for an unneeded election and we will win," Lapid said.

Between the lines: The collapse of the alternative government shows the deep effect the inter-communal violence in Israel has had on the country’s politics, far beyond the fighting in Gaza.

What’s next: The expiration of Lapid's mandate will be followed by a 21-day period in which any member of the Knesset can form a government if they can get the support of 61 members of the 120-member body.

  • During this period, Netanyahu is expected to try and pass a law to change the electoral system to allow prime ministers to be directly elected.
  • Bennett could potentially strike a deal with Netanyahu to merge his Yamina party with Netanyahu's Likud to get prime spots on the Likud electoral list.

Worth noting: Netanyahu will likely wage the next election campaign while standing trial for corruption.

Go deeper

May 12, 2021 - World

Negotiations to oust Netanyahu stall amid Jerusalem crisis

Netanyahu holds a cabinet meeting this week. Photo: Amit Shabi/POOL/AFP via Getty

Efforts to form a new Israeli government and oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have come to an almost complete halt amid the escalation with Hamas.

Why it matters: Opposition leader Yair Lapid is six days into a 28-day mandate, and seemed on track to strike a coalition deal with Naftali Bennett, a right-wing kingmaker. But the latest crisis could make those efforts nearly impossible.

May 13, 2021 - World

Biden: "Israel has a right to defend itself"

President Biden during a news conference at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden told reporters Wednesday it's his "expectation and hope" that there will soon be an end to fighting between Israel and Hamas, which has killed scores of Palestinians and several Israelis.

What they're saying: Biden, after speaking with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said that he hoped the conflict would be "closing down sooner than later," despite Israel's government announcing plans to scale up its military offensive.

Updated May 12, 2021 - World

Gaza crisis: Casualties pile up with no signs of ceasefire from Israel, Hamas

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip leave their neighborhood on Wednesday following an explosion. Photo: li Jadallah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Tel Aviv — With Israel and Hamas now engaged in their most destructive fight in seven years, the Biden administration is dispatching a State Department official to join the de-escalation efforts.

The latest: The Israeli air force attacked a meeting of senior Hamas military leaders on Wednesday in Gaza and reported it had killed the Gaza City Brigade commander and the heads of Hamas’ cyber arm and weapons research and development department, along with at least three other senior officials.