JERUSALEM — Yair Lapid, the centrist leader of the Israeli opposition, was asked Wednesday to try to form a coalition government after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to do so by a Tuesday deadline.
Mr. Lapid has 28 days to persuade a majority of the 120-seat Parliament to support him after the president, Reuven Rivlin, gave him the mandate to begin coalition negotiations.
If he cannot cobble together a government, the country could face another election this summer, its fifth general election in a little more than two years. Until there is a new government, Mr. Netanyahu stays on as caretaker prime minister.
In the March election campaign, Mr. Lapid, 57, ran on a promise to preserve checks and balances, and to prevent Mr. Netanyahu from remaining in office at the head of a right-wing, religious alliance that seeks to curb the power of the judiciary.
Mr. Lapid’s entry to the spotlight is the latest twist in a two-year political stalemate that has seen Israelis trudge to the polls four times since 2019, each time electing a Parliament whose lawmakers are roughly evenly split between supporters and opponents of Mr. Netanyahu.
The impasse has left political leaders repeatedly unable to form a stable majority, a stalemate that has left the country without a national budget and with several key leadership positions in the Civil Service unfilled.
It has also forced leaders to search for ever more unlikely alliances.
To secure a coalition, Mr. Lapid has previously said he would be willing to share power with an ultranationalist rival, Naftali Bennett, a former settler leader who opposes Palestinian statehood and seeks to
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