Israeli parliament votes to dissolve, triggering fifth election in four years

Israeli parliament votes to dissolve, triggering fifth election in four years
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On Friday, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will take over as interim prime minister under the terms of a coalition agreement between outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Lapid last year.

Thursday’s 92-0 vote ended Bennett’s term as prime minister – one of the shortest in Israeli history – and offers former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a way to return to power.

New elections will be held on November 1 – in less than four years, a fifth round of voting for Israelis will take place. Recent polls show former prime minister Netanyahu’s Likud party is on track to gain the most seats, but polls do not show that his right-wing bloc will necessarily have enough seats to win a majority in parliament and form a ruling government.

Bennett said Wednesday that he would not seek re-election, saying it was “time to step back a bit” and “look at things from the outside”.

The coalition government had been faltering for weeks. But it came as a complete surprise when Bennett and Lapid announced last week that they wanted to dissolve their own government.

“We’ve done everything we can to save this government over the past few weeks. In our eyes, the continued existence of the government is in the national interest,” Bennett said earlier this month., He stands next to Lapid.

“Believe me, we looked under every stone. We did this not for ourselves, but for our beautiful country, for you citizens of Israel,” said Bennett.

The Bennett-Lapid government was sworn in in June last year, ending more than 12 years of Netanyahu’s term as prime minister.

The coalition of at least eight political parties spanned the entire political spectrum, including for the first time an Arab party led by Mansur Abbas.

Combined with a desire to prevent Netanyahu from staying in power, whose corruption trial began in May 2020, the different coalition partners agreed to put their key differences to one side.

Although it achieved significant domestic and diplomatic successes, it was domestic policy that ultimately collapsed the coalition.

In recent weeks, many coalition members have either resigned or threatened to resign, leaving the government without gaining a majority in parliament to pass legislation.

The political stalemate culminated earlier this month when a Knesset vote disapproved of the application of Israeli criminal and civil law to Israelis in the occupied West Bank.

Among other things, the arrangement, which is to be renewed every five years, gives Israeli settlers in the Palestinian territories the same rights as they have inside Israel and is a clause of faith for right-wing members of the coalition, including the Prime Minister. Bennett.

But two members of the coalition refused to support the bill, meaning it could not pass.

As parliament was dissolved on 1 July before the law expired, the regulation will remain in effect until a new government is formed and will be put to a vote again on that date.

Andrew Carey contributed to this report.

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