Israel is set to hold the fifth general election in just three years after the country’s fragile coalition government concluded it could not survive and will vote to dissolve Parliament next week, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said in a statement.
Bennett and his main coalition partner Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid decided to present a bill to dissolve the Knesset or Parliament on June 27, Xinhua news agency quoted the statement issued late Monday as saying.
Once Parliament approves the bill, Lapid, leader of the centrist party of Yesh Atid, will rotate with Bennett and serve as interim Prime Minister until the next government is established, the office added.
The elections are expected to take place in October, Israel’s state-owned Kan TV news reported.
“Citizens of Israel, we stand before you today in a difficult moment, but with the understanding that we have made the right decision for the people of Israel,” Bennett said in a joint statement alongside Lapid, which was broadcast live.
Bennett noted that he and Lapid decided on the move in the wake of their failure to pass regulations that provides protections to Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.
The regulations will expire at the end of June, but the opposition, mostly composed of pro-settler parties, voted against a government-sponsored bill to extend them in order to force the coalition to resign.
Bennett, leader of the pro-settler party of Yamina, said he held a series of consultations with judicial and security officials on June 17 that made him realise that the expiration of the regulation will create “horrible damages”.
He said the coalition “left no stone unturned” in an attempt to raise enough votes to pass the bill in Parliament, but the efforts were “fruitless”.
Bennett and Lapid have struggled to keep together the shaky coalition of eight parties since its establishment last year, but a series of defections left it without a majority in the parliament for more than two months.
Last week, Nir Orbach, a lawmaker with Bennett’s Yamina party, announced he was resigning from the coalition because it had failed in “lifting Israelis’ spirits”.
After his exit, the coalition was left with only 59 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.
Other lawmakers have also threatened to rebel.
Bennett’s coalition was inaugurated in June 2021, after a string of inconclusive elections.
It is made of parties with diverse ideologies, including pro-settler nationalists and dovish parties, united only with the goal of ousting longtime leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
The move threw a political lifeline to Bennett’s predecessor Netanyahu, who is now the leader of the opposition and facing a criminal trial over corruption charges.
The leader of the right-wing Likud party celebrated the fall of the government, saying on Monday in a video statement that he and his opposition colleagues “struggled for a year” to topple the government.
“I and my friends will establish a new government … that will restore the national pride of the people of Israel,” Netanyahu vowed.
Last week, the results of an Israel Channel 12 TV poll indicated that the bloc led by Netanyahu would win most seats in a fresh election, though still two short of a majority.