The Islamist Ra’am party announced on Monday that it was suspending coalition talks with the anti-Netanyahu “change bloc” in the wake of Hamas rocket fire from Gaza.
The move represents a potentially major blow to the hopes for an anti-Netanyahu government, which began last week when the prime minister’s mandate expired after he failed to form a government.
Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid, was given the mandate to form a government on Wednesday. Ra’am sources claimed that it was unclear whether the party would resume talks with the opposition leader before his mandate expires on 2 June.
Both the pro- and anti-Netanyahu blocs would have to depend on support from Ra’am for a governing majority.
Ra’am’s decision to withdraw came as a blow, with several Israeli news channels reporting that a coalition government had all but been formed, with all ministerial appointments agreed.
The anti-Netanyahu parties have broadly expressed support for a forceful response to the rocket fire from Gaza.
“No country can allow citizens to live under the threat of terror”, Lapid tweeted. “Israel must act resolutely and forcefully to restore deterrence”.