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Netanyahu. Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty

The incoming Israeli government will be sworn in on Sunday if it survives a confidence vote, outgoing parliamentary speaker Yariv Levin said in a statement on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies, including Levin, are trying to thwart the formation of the new government, which would see right-wing Naftali Bennett replace Netanyahu as prime minister in an alliance with Yair Lapid, the centrist opposition leader.

Between the lines: Bennett and Lapid need to submit their final coalition agreement 24 hours before a vote in Israel's parliament, the Knesset. But they can't do so on a Saturday, as Levin was well-aware, meaning they'll have to submit the agreement two days before the vote.

  • That gives Netanyahu's Likud party more time to scrutinize and criticize the agreement in hopes of convincing right-wing members of the new coalition to abandon it.
  • Levin was caught on a hot mic on Monday saying he would schedule the vote when it would best suit the Likud rather than hold it as soon as possible, as is the tradition.

The big picture: Bennett, a former tech executive and Netanyahu protege, would initially become prime minister under the deal despite leading a small party, because it would have been impossible for either Netanyahu or Lapid to reach a majority without him. Lapid would then rotate into the job after two years.

The state of play: Bennett and Lapid appear to currently have the narrowest possible majority, with six out of the seven members from Bennett's party expected to vote in favor.

  • Netanyahu has been dialing up the pressure on members of Bennett's party, who are much closer to him ideologically than to their new coalition partners. Netanyahu's supporters have demonstrated in front of their houses, and some of Bennett's allies have received death threats.
  • The director of Israel's Shin Bet domestic security service warned on Saturday that the “serious radicalization in incitement and discourse on social media" could lead to a Jan. 6-style attack in Israel to prevent a peaceful transition of power.

What’s next: Lapid and Bennett now have until Friday to smooth out any remaining differences over their coalition agreement. Netanyahu has until Sunday to sabotage it.

  • If he can't, Israel will have a new prime minister for the first time in 12 years.

Go deeper: Netanyahu claims Bennett won't stand up to Biden

Go deeper

Sep 8, 2021 - World

Israel PM Bennett to make rare public visit to Egypt

Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is expected to travel to Egypt next week for the first public visit by an Israeli prime minister in over a decade.

The big picture: Israel officials speculate that by inviting Bennett publicly so early in his term, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government is trying to signal Egypt's importance in the region to the Biden administration.

Sep 8, 2021 - World

Despite Biden statement, Israel is a long way from U.S. visa waiver

Passport control at Dulles Airport. Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty

Bennett left Washington with a notable "deliverable": Biden had promised to work toward bringing Israel into the U.S. visa waiver program.

Why it matters: Admission to the program has been an Israeli aspiration for decades. The issue resonates with many Israelis who may have family, friends or business connections in the U.S. but are intimidated by the visa process or put off by the costs.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
15 mins ago - Science

A new NASA astronaut corps for the next era in space

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NASA's next crewed missions to the Moon will need a larger, differently-trained and multi-skilled astronaut corps to deliver on the agency's ambitions.

Why it matters: NASA has plans to fly astronauts to the surface of the Moon in 2025 and ultimately establish a long-term presence there. That goal requires a robust corps with new, specialized training in what it takes to live and work on the Moon — and NASA needs to start planning now.

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