The recent escalation of violence with the Palestinians, which has stoked nationalist passions, has made it more difficult for opposition parties in Israel to come together and form a coalition government against Benjamin Netanyahu, reports the American international relations magazine Foreign Policy.
Naftali Bennett, a right-wing lawmaker and a key figure in the negotiations between the opposition factions, told opposition party members in a closed-door meeting last Thursday that the option was "off the table," according to Israel's Channel 12.
The report, later widely confirmed, said Bennett doubted an opposition coalition government could deploy the "necessary force" to quell the clashes between Arab and Jewish citizens that have flared since fighting in Gaza began this week.
The report indicated that Bennett, head of the pro-settler Yamina party, was resuming negotiations with Netanyahu's Likud party.
Foreign Policy quotes Tal Shalev, chief political correspondent for Walla News, in saying "the events of the past week showed that you can't simply ignore the Palestinian question or security issues, and Yamina collapsed and rebelled against Bennett. If we were in Switzerland, [such a government] may have worked, but the public debate right now is extremely polarized and nationalistic."
The anti-Netanyahu coalition would have spanned the political gamut from left to right -- with Bennett serving as prime minister -- and included an Islamist party representing Arab Israelis. The motley group was united mainly by the goal of toppling Netanyahu, who has led Israel for 12 straight years and is currently standing trial on multiple corruption charges.
Political analysts said Bennett caved to pressure from his own party and his right-wing base, whose members could not stand cooperation with left-wing and Arab factions while fighting with the Palestinians, whether in Gaza or at home, raged, reports Foreign Policy.
At least 120 Palestinians and eight Israelis have been killed in the fighting -- mainly in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli cities.