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Naftali Bennett, leader of the Israeli right-wing Yamina ('New Right') party. Photo: GIL COHEN-MAGEN / Getty Images

The leader of right-wing Yamina party Naftali Bennett could announce as early as Sunday that he is joining opposition leader Yair Lapid to form a power-sharing government in Israel, sources familiar with the issue tell Axios.

Why it matters: If a new "change government" will be formed, Bennett will be prime minister and will bring an end to 12 years of Benjamin Netanyahu rule. Such a development could end the political crisis that led to four consecutive elections in two years.

Flashback: Three weeks ago, Lapid was on the verge of forming a power-sharing government that would see Bennett serve first as prime minister for two years before Lapid rotates into the job. But Bennett backtracked amid the Gaza conflict.

Driving the news: Bennett met Lapid on Thursday and according to several press reports told Lapid he wants to join a power-sharing government, but still needs to get other members of his party behind him, mainly his deputy Ayelet Shaked.

  • Bennett held consultations on Saturday night (local time) with Shaked and other close confidants.

What to watch: On Sunday morning, he will hold a meeting with all the members of Knesset from his party to hear their views on the possibility of joining a "change government."

The big picture: If a new government is formed, it will be the most wide-ranging coalition ever formed in Israel.

Such a government will be highly fragile, avoid controversial issues, take all decisions in consensus and focus on the economy, post-COVID-19 relief and stabilization of the Gaza ceasefire.

  • Even such an agreed-upon agenda will be very hard to implement and the government could fall apart within months.

What's next: Lapid's mandate for forming a government expires on Wednesday.

  • If Bennett announces he's joining the "change government," Lapid wants to sign all coalition agreements by Wednesday, notify Israeli President Reuven Rivlin he managed to form and swear in the new government as early as next Monday.
  • This gives Netanyahu another week to try and sabotage the new government and prevent Lapid and Bennett from mastering the majority they need.

Go deeper

Sep 1, 2021 - World

Israeli foreign minister criticizes Biden's handling of Afghanistan pullout

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) meets with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (right). Photo: Andrew Harnik/POOL/AFP via Getty

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Wednesday that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was "probably the right decision that maybe wasn’t performed in the right manner."

The backdrop: U.S. allies in Europe have also questioned the execution of Biden's withdrawal, but Biden has rejected the idea that it could have been handled better. Speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem, Lapid said he doesn't think the U.S. is retreating from the Middle East but is instead updating the way it operates in the region.

Ron Klain doubts U.S. will ever recognize Taliban government

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said on MSNBC on Tuesday that he wasn't sure whether the U.S. would ever recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan's legitimate government.

Driving the news: MSNBC's Mehdi Hasan asked Klain whether the U.S. would be recognizing the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan any time soon.

Dems' immigration plan hits major roadblock

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Sunday that Democrats cannot include pathways to citizenship in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, per a copy of the ruling obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: It's a blow to Democrats who hoped to provide pathways for millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Using reconciliations would have allowed them to pass politically contentious immigration changes with only 50 votes, as opposed to the usual 60 required.

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