Decision by Israeli lawmakers paves way for fifth election in Jewish state in less than four years
Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, voted Thursday to dissolve, meaning the Jewish state will hold its fifth election since 2019 later this year.
The 92-0 vote ended Naftali Bennett’s term as prime minister, which became one of the shortest in the country’s history. He was only sworn in as Prime Minister on June 13, 2021.
From midnight, Bennett will be replaced as Prime Minister by Foreign Secretary and Acting Prime Minister Yair Lapid. The two ruling coalition partners symbolically swapped seats in the Knesset after the vote.
The new legislative elections must take place in Israel on November 1, the date favored by the government.
Bennett had already announced on Wednesday that he was not going to run again, saying it was “It’s time to take a step back” for him and “look at things from the outside.”
Lawmakers decided to disperse last week, but it took time for the coalition and the opposition to agree on a date for the re-vote and the fate of some key pieces of legislation.
Ultimately, they could not find common ground on the subject of a subway system for Tel Aviv and another bill, which is crucial to moving Israel forward on the path to securing visa-free travel to the United States.
The coalition of eight political parties with diverse views, including the pro-Palestinian Joint List (UAL or Ra’am), joined forces last year to remove longtime right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
However, working together effectively as a government proved problematic for them. And, last week, Bennett and Lapid announced their intention to disband the firm.
The decision was prompted by the failure of the Knesset in early June to pass a bill that would extend the legal rights of settlers in the occupied West Bank for another five years. Two coalition members joined the opposition in refusing to back the bill to speed up dissolution, putting Israel at risk of an unprecedented legal debacle.
The dissolution of parliament now means that Israeli legal rights for settlers will automatically be extended for another six months.
The coalition government will continue in office until the elections, in which Netanyahu will be the favorite to become prime minister, according to polls.
A poll published Tuesday by Radio 103 FM suggested that the opposition leader and his bloc would win 59 of the 120 seats in the Knesset. That would make Netanyahu the winner, but still not enough for him to secure a majority and form a government.