Israel coalition agrees to dissolve and hold new elections

20 June 2022, 19:24

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
Israel Government. Picture: PA

The election, expected in October or November, would be Israel’s fifth in three years.

Israel’s weakened coalition government has decided to dissolve parliament and call a new election, the country’s fifth in three years.

The vote, expected this autumn, could bring about the return of a nationalist religious government led by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu or another prolonged period of political gridlock.

The previous four elections, focused on Mr Netanyahu’s fitness to rule while on trial for corruption charges, ended in deadlock.

In a nationally televised news conference, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said it was not easy to disband the government, but he called it “the right decision for Israel.”

Yair Lapid
Yair Lapid (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP)

The fragile coalition government, which includes parties from across the political spectrum, lost its majority earlier this year and has faced rebellions from different lawmakers in recent weeks.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will take over from Mr Bennett on an interim basis in an agreement they announced together.

Mr Bennett listed a series of accomplishments and promised an “orderly” transition.

Mr Lapid thanked Bennett for putting the country ahead of his personal interests.

“Even if we’re going to elections in a few months, our challenges as a state cannot wait,” Mr Lapid said.

Mr Bennett formed the eight-party coalition in June 2021 after four successive inconclusive elections.

It included a diverse array of parties, from dovish factions that support an end to Israel’s occupation of lands captured in 1967, to hard-line parties that oppose Palestinian independence.

Often described as a political “experiment”, it made history by becoming the first Israeli coalition government to include an Arab party.

The alliance made a series of accomplishments, including passing the first national budget in several years and navigating a pair of coronavirus outbreaks without imposing any lockdowns.

But eventually it unravelled, in large part because several members of Mr Bennett’s hard-line party objected to what they felt were compromises made by him to keep the coalition afloat and his perceived moderation.

The immediate cause for Bennett’s decision was the looming expiration of laws that grant West Bank settlers special legal status. If those laws were to expire, settlers would be subject to many of the military laws that apply to the territory’s more than two million Palestinians.

Parliament was to vote to extend the laws earlier this month. But the hard-line opposition, comprised heavily of settler supporters, paradoxically voted against the bill in order to embarrass the government.

Dovish members of the coalition who normally oppose the settlements voted in favour of the bill in hopes of keeping the government afloat.

By dissolving parliament, the laws remain in effect. Mr Bennett, a former settler leader, said that if he had allowed the laws to expire, there would have been “grave security perils and constitutional chaos”.

“I couldn’t let that happen,” he said.

The dissolution threatened to overshadow a visit scheduled by President Joe Biden scheduled for next month. The US Embassy said it assumed that the visit would take place as planned.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits UK
Benjamin Netanyahu (PA)

Mr Netanyahu described the imminent dissolution of parliament as “great tidings” for millions of Israelis, and he said he would form “a broad nationalist government headed by Likud” after the upcoming elections.

Israel held four inconclusive elections between 2019 and 2021 that were largely referendums about Mr Netanyahu’s ability to rule while on trial for corruption. Mr Netanyahu denies wrongdoing.

Opinion polls have forecast that Mr Netanyahu’s hard-line Likud will once again emerge as the largest single party. But it remains unclear whether he would be able to muster the required support of a majority of lawmakers to form a new government.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

A boy holds his pet dog as his family evacuated from the war-hit area gets on an evacuation train in Pokrovsk, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, June 25, 2022

Russia edges closer to swallowing up Ukraine’s last remaining stronghold

Russia Ukraine War

Russia pushes to block second city in eastern Ukraine

President Joe Biden waves to the media as he walks to board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland

Biden arrives in Europe ahead of G7 and Nato summits

Chicago police at the scene where a five-month-old girl was shot and killed in the South Shore neighbourhood of Chicago

Five-month-old girl shot dead in car in Chicago

Tourists fill plastic bottles with water from a public fountain at the Sforzesco Castle in Milan, Italy

Milan to turn off fountains as drought hits Italy

A photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell

Seven accusers write to Ghislaine Maxwell’s sentencing judge

Vitali Klitschko

European mayors duped into calls with impostor posing as Kyiv’s Vitali Klitschko

People lay flowers at the scene of a shooting in central Oslo, Norway

Gunman kills two during Oslo Pride festival

Activists from Oxfam wear giant heads depicting G7 leaders during a demonstration in Munich, Germany

Protesters gather as G7 leaders set to arrive in Germany

The Brit fell from the Devil's Pass in northern Spain

Brit, 25, falls to his death climbing over Spain's notorious 'Devil's Pass'

Joe Biden

Biden declares ‘lives will be saved’ as he signs landmark gun legislation

Police gather at the site of a shooting in Oslo (Javad Parsa/NTB via AP)

Suspected terror-linked shooting in Oslo kills two and wounds 10

Two people were killed in a shooting in Oslo

Man charged with terrorist acts after mass shooting outside Oslo gay bar

Protests have taken place cross the US

Protests erupt as abortion clinics close across US after Roe v Wade overthrown

Police stand guard outside a bar in central Oslo

Man arrested following shooting in central Oslo which left two dead

Anti-abortion protesters rally at the Supreme Court, Friday, June 24, 2022, in Washington

Abortion clinics begin closing after Supreme Court ruling