Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that a proposed new unity government would be “a danger for the security” of the country.
He urged right-wing politicians not to support a deal after ultra-nationalist leader Naftali Bennett said he would join talks with centrist Yair Lapid.
Mr Lapid has until Wednesday to form a new coalition government.
If successful, it would end Mr Netanyahu’s time as the country’s longest serving prime minister.
Mr Netanyahu, who is on trial for fraud, fell short of a decisive majority at a general election in March. It was the country’s fourth inconclusive vote in two years – and again he failed to secure coalition allies.
“Don’t form a left-wing government – such a government is a danger to Israel’s security and future,” the 71-year-old, who has been in power for 12 years and has dominated Israeli politics for a generation, said on Sunday. He did not elaborate.
Mr Netanyahu accused Mr Bennett of “misleading the public” and of carrying out “the fraud of the century” – a reference to the Yamina party leader’s previous public promises not to join forces with Mr Lapid.
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Mr Bennett, 49, earlier announced that his party would join talks to form a governing coalition in a televised address.