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Netanyahu poised to gain political lifeline as violence flares

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's Prime Minister. (Photo: Kobi Wolf / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

JERUSALEM, May 13 (Reuters) - Civil unrest between Jews and Arabs in Israel dealt a strong blow on Thursday to efforts by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's main political rival Yair Lapid to form a new government and unseat the Israeli leader.

Naftali Bennett, head of the ultranationalist Yamina party and a kingmaker after an inconclusive March 23 parliamentary election, said he was abandoning coalition talks with Lapid, the opposition leader, preferring a wider unity government.

Lapid, who heads the centrist Yesh Atid party, has three weeks left in a 28-day mandate from Israel’s president to try to form a governing coalition. If he fails, a new election – Israel’s fifth in two years – is likely.

A “rotation” deal in which Lapid and Bennett would take turns as prime minister had been mooted, but it would need the backing of Arab legislators for a parliamentary majority.

Bennett was quoted by Israeli media as saying the current strife with Israel’s 21% Arab minority would make such a government unfeasible.

Israel-Gaza cross-border hostilities have been accompanied by violence in mixed communities of Jews and Arabs in Israel. Synagogues have been attacked and street fights have broken out, prompting Israel’s president to warn of civil war.

Mansour Abbas, who heads the United Arab List party, said on Channel 12 TV that Bennett phoned him to say a so-called “government of change” with Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid faction, was now “off the table”.

In a televised address, Lapid voiced regret at Bennett’s decision but said he would continue his efforts to put together a coalition.

Israeli political commentators gave him little chance of success.

(Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Howard Goller)

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  • Colleen Dardagan says:

    Another politician who should be sent to Mars

  • Kanu Sukha says:

    Invading a place of worship & then declaring open ‘war’ on a people who fired rockets in protest, is a sure way of a corrupt ‘leader’ avoiding corruption charges & unable to form a government…to stay in power! Encourage ‘outrage’ as his pal Trump did & continues to do in the US…it works! Sad.

  • Kanu Sukha says:

    No wonder that he & his sponsor the US are not & refuse to be party to the ICC which could reasonably objectively investigate charges of human rights violations.The notion that Biden is ‘liberal’ (who will NOT like Barak) even tell Israel to stop building ‘settlements’ on occupied land, says it all!

    • Scott Gordon says:

      Agree to an extent , more settlers , nothing from the UN .
      Sending a team to investigate , what ?
      This is nothing new, still hear about the elimination of Israel from the 60s .
      Who finances politicians ? Shakespeare had issues back then .
      “Settlements ” are not new !

  • Scott Gordon says:

    Hmm an article that does not mention the ‘click bait’ , who runs Israel and for how long ? When does Net get his day in court ? JZ is 15 years and counting !

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