Citing Israeli media, Reuters reported that opposition leader Yair Lapid, 57, has purportedly reached a power-sharing deal with Bennett, 49, that would have Bennett replace Netanyahu. The alliance between right-wing, centrist and left-wing parties would provide Lapid a way toward a rotation agreement in which the role of the head of government would alternate between members of Israel’s national legislature, the Knesset.
Lapid must form a new government by Wednesday after Netanyahu failed to do so, or there will likely be another national election in Israel.
Talks of a Bennett-Lapid agreement had already been ongoing when the most recent fighting between Israel and Hamas broke out earlier this month. Talks were suspended during the 11 days of fighting.
Israeli media reported that Bennett said he was "marching towards a government of change." He also reportedly said that Netanyahu did not have support for his right-wing government and that this coalition would help avoid a fifth national election.
Reuters reported that Bennett’s political party, Yamina, gave its support for the agreement in a statement after he met with its legislators. The news service noted that this agreement would be fragile and require the support of the Arab members of Israel’s parliament who generally oppose much of Bennett’s agenda, including more buildings in the occupied territories in the West Bank.
Netanyahu made a counteroffer on Sunday to stand aside and allow fellow right-wing politician Gideon Sa'ar to take power, Reuters noted. Sa'ar would hold power for 15 months, after which Netanyahu would reassume power for two years. At the end of the two years, Sa'ar would serve out the rest of the term.
"We are at a fateful moment for Israel's security, character and future when you put aside any personal considerations and take far-reaching and even unprecedented steps," Netanyahu said in a video detailing his offer.
However, Sa'ar rejected the offer on Twitter, writing, "Our position and commitment are unchanged - to end Netanyahu's rule."
עמדתנו ומחוייבותנו היתה ונותרה: החלפת שלטון נתניהו. בהתאם לכך נמשיך לפעול. המלצה חמה לימים הקרובים: התעלמו מספינים.— Gideon Sa'ar | גדעון סער (@gidonsaar) May 30, 2021
--Updated at 1:48 p.m.