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Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett. Photo: GALI TIBBON/AFP via Getty Images

The leader of Israel's right wing Yamina party, Naftali Bennett, said in a speech Sunday he'll do everything in his power to form a unity government with opposition leader Yair Lapid “to get the country back on the right track."

Why it matters: A new "change government" could end the political crisis that has led to four elections in Israel in two years. It would make Bennett prime minister, bringing an end to 12 years of Benjamin Netanyahu's rule.

What he's saying: Bennett, who called Lapid his “friend”, in the speech accused Netanyahu of lying when he says he can form a right wing government with 61 members of the legislature.

  • He added that the alternative to a unity government was a fifth election, which he said would lead to a sixth and seventh election. “This will tear apart our country brick by brick until our house collapses on us”, Bennett said.
  • “Mr. Netanyahu is not trying to form a right wing government. He knows it's impossible. He wants to take the country to his own personal Masada,” Bennett said. He said Netanyahu was operating a “well-oiled machine that is spreading lies to sow fear in the public.”
  • Bennett stressed the new unity government will not be left-wing, and that it wouldn't give up territories or hesitate to go on a military operation if one is needed.
  • “The left wing part of the government made big compromises … each side of the government will have a veto power and equal number of votes”, Bennett said.

The other side: Netanyahu gave a statement shortly after Bennett’s speech, calling him a liar and “the con artist of the century.” He called on right wing voters to put pressure on the members of Knesset from Bennett’s party so that they don't vote in favor of the new government.

Worth noting: Under a “change government,” Bennett would serve as prime minister for two years before Lapid rotates into the job. It would be the most wide-ranging coalition ever formed in Israel.

What’s next: Bennett’s and Lapid’s negotiations teams convened right after the speech. Lapid and Bennett were already on the verge of a deal three weeks ago when talks suspended over the Gaza operation.

  • Both of them want to finish negotiations by Monday or Tuesday, and notify President Rivlin that they managed to form a government. The swearing in of the government could take place no more than a week later.

Go deeper

May 30, 2021 - World

Bennett tells party members he is headed for a "change government" that will oust Netanyahu

Naftali Bennett (left) and Benjamin Netanyahu. Photos: GALI TIBBON/AFP via Getty Images; ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/AFP via Getty Images

The leader of Israel's right wing Yamina party, Naftali Bennett, told members of his party at a meeting Sunday he's moving forward with joining opposition leader Yair Lapid to form a power sharing government that would oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Why it matters: A new "change government" would make Bennett prime minister and bring an end to 12 years of Benjamin Netanyahu's rule. The development could end the political crisis that has led to four elections in two years.

May 29, 2021 - World

Bennett to announce he's joining opposition to form new Israeli government, oust Netanyahu

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.

Updated 42 mins ago - Health

CDC: Vaccinated people in COVID hotspots should resume wearing masks

CDC director Rochelle Walensky and top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci at a Senate HELP committee hearing. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance on Tuesday recommending that vaccinated people wear masks in indoor, public settings if they are in parts of the U.S. with substantial to high transmission, among other circumstances.

Why it matters: The guidance, a reversal from recommendations made two months ago, comes as the Delta variant continues to drive up case rates across the country. Millions of people in the U.S. — either by choice or who are ineligible — remain unvaccinated and at risk of serious infection.