Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid have agreed to disband the current Knesset and head to new elections. A preliminary bill will tentatively be brought during the upcoming parliamentary session on June 27.
If the motion to disband passes, it will be brought into the parliamentary committee and get sent back to the Knesset, where it will need to pass three formal readings. If the Knesset officially votes to disband, Lapid, who currently serves as foreign minister, will become a transitional prime minister with limited powers until a new government is formed after the elections.
This would be the fifth Israeli election cycle in three-and-a-half years with new elections planned for late October, immediately after the High Holidays.
The current coalition only has 59 remaining members following resignations by two of its members. In the past weeks, Knesset members from multiple parties across the coalition have expressed their displeasure in the government, with many boycotting parliamentary votes. Without a majority of 61 members, the coalition can no longer pass laws.
At a joint press conference announcing their decision, Bennett said, “a year ago, we formed a government that had seemed impossible, that ended the severe political paralysis. We formed a good government, and together we got Israel out of the slump. Israel went back to being governed … .”
He added, “over the past weeks, we did whatever we could to save this government, not for us, but for the benefit of the country.”
“A year ago, we started the process of rebuilding,” said Lapid, “and now we’re carrying it on, and carrying it on together. What we need to do today is go back to the concept of Israeli unity, and not to let dark forces tear us apart from within. We must remind ourselves that we love one another, love our country, and that only together will we prevail.”
As part of the complicated parliamentary system, Netanyahu, who currently controls a block of 55 Knesset members, may be able to form a new government prior to the final votes to disband parliament and avert new elections if six additional members from the current coalition agree to join a Netanyahu-led government.
Netanyahu took credit for consistent pressure from the opposition that ended what he called, “the worst government in Israel’s history.”
Likud is currently polling at more than 35 seats should new elections be held—15 seats more than Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party. Bennett’s Yamina Party is polling near or below the minimum threshold to enter Knesset.