Israel could be risking escalation with Iran and tensions with the Biden administration by continuing to strike Iranian ships — a risk that is exacerbated by Israel's political crisis and dysfunctional interim government.
Why it matters: An Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ship was attacked in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen on Tuesday, the same day the Vienna talks opened.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has the first crack at forming Israel's next government, but the job could ultimately fall to a much less well-known figure: Naftali Bennett.
Why it matters: Bennett's right-wing Yamina party won just seven seats in the March 23 elections, but an unprecedented set of political circumstances has created an opening for the former defense minister and tech entrepreneur to replace Netanyahu, with the support of the center-left.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is expected to travel to Israel next week, Israeli officials tell me.
Why it matters: This will be the first Cabinet-level visit to the Middle East from the Biden administration, which has been shifting attention away from the region and toward China and Russia.
Two weeks after Israel's fourth consecutive election, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday gave the mandate for forming a new government to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Why it matters: Netanyahu's path for forming a coalition is very, very narrow. Although he received the mandate from the president, Netanyahu does not at the moment have a majority in the Israeli Knesset that will allow him to form a new government.
As the first witness in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial took the stand on Monday, President Reuven Rivlin was consulting with representatives of Israel's political parties as to who should form the next government.
Why it matters: This split-screen moment between the Jerusalem district court and the president’s residence encapsulated the political and legal crisis that has engulfed Israel over the last two years. The crisis appears likely to continue now that a fourth election has ended with no clear winner.
President Biden on Friday revoked the sanctions imposed by his predecessor on officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Secretary of State Tony Blinken said in a statement.
Why it matters: Biden had promised to lift the sanctions during the campaign, but he delayed doing so at the request of Israel, which was attempting to block an ICC investigation into the situation in the West Bank and Gaza.
The director of Israel’s domestic security service, the Shin Bet, warned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas against running on a joint list with Hamas in the upcoming parliamentary elections or creating a power-sharing government with Hamas after the elections, Israeli and Palestinian sources say.
Why it matters: The Israeli security establishment is very concerned that the elections, planned for May 22, could lead to a Hamas takeover in the West Bank as happened in Gaza after the previous elections, in 2006.
With 90% of the vote in from Tuesday's election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc is just short of a 61-seat majority in the Israeli Knesset.
Breaking it down: A broad anti-Netanyahu bloc is on course for a slender majority, but will find it nearly impossible to form a coalition. The results suggest that most Israeli voters want to see Netanyahu removed from office, but can't agree on an alternative.
With 87% of the votes counted in Israel's elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc falls short of the 61 seats in the Knesset needed for a majority. The center-left bloc has 61 seats, but faces an almost impossible task of forming a coalition.
Why it matters: According to the current results, it's likely that neither side will manage to form a coalition and Israel will move toward a new election in the summer — its fifth in less than two and a half years.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will contest his fourth election in two years on Tuesday, fighting for a parliamentary majority that could help him undercut his ongoing corruption trial.
Why it matters: Three inconclusive elections have left Israel locked in a prolonged political crisis as Netanyahu fights for his political and legal survival. This time, Israel's longest-serving prime minister faces a divided opposition and has a clear opportunity to finally win a 61-seat majority.