Israel PM Naftali Bennett said he would step down from his position after lawmakers voted to dissolve the parliament next week.
The whole political establishment of Israel is experiencing a crazy mayhem these days. This Monday, the office of the Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced that it intends to dissolve the Knesset, giving way to yet another parliamentary election in Israel.
In a statement released on Monday night, the office noted that “attempts to stabilize the coalition had been exhausted” and that the current fractious government, which is made up of eight ideologically disparate parties, “will submit a bill next week to dissolve parliament.”
The announcement was issued after the parliament reached no consensus about the future of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank early this week, with some Arab members of the coalition refusing to back it. “We did everything we could to preserve this government,” Bennett said in a live televised addressing Israeli people on Monday, further noting that “Believe me, we turned over every stone.”
Bennet ruled for almost a year over the most diverse government in the history of Israel, with even an Arab political party in it for the first time. This is going to be the fifth consecutive election in just over three years in Israel. According to Israeli constitution, the new election means that the foreign minister Yair Lapid takes over and replace Bennet at least until three months after a new parliament is elected.
In comments during a joint media conference after the unexpected announcement, Lapid, the incoming premier, praised Bennett as a friend and for the “responsibility he is showing today, for the fact that he is putting the country before his personal interests”.
Great news for Netanyahu
The news of dissolving the current government was most welcomed by Israel’s former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu is now the opposition leader and seeks to return to power while already facing a corruption investigation on several charges.
In a statement on Monday night, the former longtime prime minister said that the coalition’s imminent collapse was “great news for millions of Israeli citizens” and that his conservative Likud party would seek to form a “wide, national government”. Israel held four previous elections in less than three years between 2019 and 2021 that were largely referendums about Netanyahu’s ability to rule due to his corruption charges. The new election is expected to be held in late October or November, after the conclusion of several major Jewish holidays.
It comes at a very critical time for Israel as it is facing an unprecedented rise in Palestinian attacks on Israelis and an escalation of war between Israel and Iran. It is also expected that the election could very well lead to the return to power by Netanyahu. To read between the lines, recent polls in this regard have predicted that Netanyahu’s Likud will once again form the largest single party in Israel. However, it is not yet clear whether he would be able to get the necessary support from the majority of lawmakers in the parliament to form his new government.
Bennet’s coalition government was first united last year by the desire to remove Netanyahu from power and put an end to years of political deadlock in Israel following a series on inconclusive elections. But the coalition has been losing unity and strength during the past months, with some of its top members deciding to resign in April and May.