JERUSALEM — When the guns are talking, Israel’s domestic political strife typically goes silent.
When the country is on the brink of war, the opposition usually rallies around the government.
Not this time.
As the conflict with Gaza wrought more death and destruction on Wednesday — and as an intense surge of Arab-Jewish sectarian violence rocked towns within Israel — a chief opponent of Benjamin Netanyahu blamed the prime minister for the spiraling sense of chaos and said he was working to oust him.
Yair Lapid, the centrist leader of the opposition, said the events of the last week “can be no excuse for keeping Netanyahu and his government in place. Quite the opposite,” Mr. Lapid wrote in a statement he posted on Facebook. “They are exactly the reason why he should be replaced as soon as possible.”
The escalating crisis, in which dozens have been killed in airstrikes and rocket barrages, has come at a pivotal moment in Israeli politics.
standing trial on corruption charges and was unable to form a government after four elections in two years, seemed on the verge of losing power after 12 consecutive years in office.
Mr. Lapid had been given a chance to try his hand at forming a coalition that could command a majority in a vote of confidence in Parliament. His potential coalition partners are a disparate group of small parties with clashing agendas and ideologies, and he has a deadline of June 2 to complete the task.
a small, Arab Islamist party known as Raam that currently holds the balance in Parliament.
Historically, Arab parties played a marginal role in Israeli politics. The mainstream governing parties have been reluctant to rely on Arab votes in Parliament, particularly given Israel’s focus on security issues in a hostile and volatile region. And Arab lawmakers have not been eager to participate in governments and to share responsibility for Israel’s military actions and occupation of the West Bank.
Mr. Abbas had planned to change all that. After negotiations with Mr. Netanyahu failed, he turned to cooperating with Mr. Lapid. Then, as religious and nationalist tensions peaked in Jerusalem over the last week, culminating in the military conflict, Mr. Abbas formally suspended Raam’s participation in coalition talks but has not ruled out supporting an alternative government, in return for benefits for Israel’s Arab minority, which makes up about one-fifth of the population.
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
“After the fire dies down, there will be no choice but to return to political negotiations to form a government,” Mr. Abbas said on Wednesday in an interview on Israeli public radio’s Arabic service. “We have a real opportunity to fill an important role in Israeli politics for our society.”