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Israeli PM Naftali Bennett speaks next to Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at the Knesset in Jerusalem.

REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

What We're Watching: Bennett throws in the towel in Israel, Petro wins in Colombia, Macron loses majority in France

Israel faces fifth election in three years

Israelis are headed to the polls, again, for the fifth time in just over three years. After almost two months of being on the brink of collapse following a number of high-profile defections that made it lose its parliamentary majority, the fragile eight-party coalition government led by PM Naftali Bennett is set to disband. In the coming days, Bennett and his main coalition partner, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, intend to dissolve the Knesset (parliament) and call a fresh election in October or November. Lapid will serve as caretaker PM once Bennett steps down, but Bennett will retain the Iran portfolio as part of the power-sharing agreement. Former PM Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, who now heads the opposition, celebrated the demise of an unwieldy government whose members could pretty much only agree that they didn't want him as prime minister. Bibi, for his part, is (surprise!) gunning for a return to power despite being on trial for corruption. Will his rightwing Likud Party win enough seats and allies to cobble together a majority to form a government, or will Israel's political deadlock continue with no end in sight?

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Models of oil barrels seen in front of a "stop" sign and the EU and Russia flag colors.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Hard Numbers: EU bans (most) Russian oil, Israel-UAE trade deal, crowdfunded drone for Ukraine, Pokemon zero-COVID protest

2/3: After weeks of tense negotiations, EU leaders agreed late Monday to an embargo on two-thirds of the oil the bloc now imports from Russia. But there's a catch: holdout Hungary will likely get an indefinite exemption in order to drop its veto.

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Malaysia ups palm oil exports, al-Shabab strikes in Somalia, split verdict on marital rape in India, journalist killed in West Bank

Hard Numbers: Malaysia ups palm oil exports, al-Shabab strikes in Somalia, split verdict on marital rape in India, journalist killed in West Bank

162: Indian women’s rights groups are reeling after a New Delhi court failed to deliver a verdict in a case that could have overturned a 162-year-old law permitting marital rape. The Indian Penal Code says sex "by a man with his own wife" does not constitute rape. The case will likely be appealed before the Supreme Court.

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What We're Watching & What We're Ignoring

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

US nuclear tech for Saudis? A new report from a congressional oversight committee charges that senior White House officials have pushed a plan to share nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia over the objections of key national security advisors. Any such deal with the Saudis appears to violate US law. On the surface, this is just one more front in the widening and intensifying battle between the White House and Democratic lawmakers, but proliferation experts warn that sharing this tech with the Saudis could create a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Israeli elections Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu's road to reelection just got a bit tougher. Former army chief Benny Gantz and centrist TV reporter-turned-politician Yair Lapid formed an alliance this week to challenge Bibi's Likud-led alliance in national elections set for April 9. Gantz and Lapid say they'll rotate as prime minister if they win. Netanyahu, meanwhile, has partnered with the far-right Jewish Home party and the extremist Jewish Power party to boost his electoral strength. In the background, the Israeli attorney general is considering whether to accept a police recommendation to indict Netanyahu on fraud and bribery charges.

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