In Brief: Conflict with Hamas changes course of Israel coalition talks

Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Crown Copyright, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Coalition talks following Israel’s fourth election in two years have taken a dramatic turn in response to the country’s ongoing conflict with Hamas.

Last week, the Islamist Ra’am party announced that it would suspend talks with the anti-Netanyahu “change bloc” in response to the outbreak of conflict.

A second change came when Naftali Bennett, leader of the right-wing Yamina party, similarly ended talks with the change bloc and indicated his willingness to support Netanyahu, given the ongoing conflict.

More recently, Israeli television has reported that representatives of Blue and White leader Benny Gantz – who had been expected to support the change bloc – were discussing a potential partnership with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu once the conflict ends.

The claim has been denied by both sides, with anti-Netanyahu hopefuls claiming that the leak represented an attempt to sow uncertainty within the change bloc.

The mandate was then passed to leader of the opposition Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid, who seemed likely to form a government with Ra’am support before the violence began. Lapid’s mandate will expire on 2 June.