Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced on Monday, June 20, that his government will introduce a resolution to dissolve the Knesset (Israeli parliament) and call for fresh elections in the coming days. He made the announcement after struggling for weeks to muster a majority for his ruling coalition.
Foreign Minister and leader of the Yesh Ytid party, Yair Lapid, will take over as prime minister from Bennett after the dissolution of the Knesset.
According to Israeli news reports on Tuesday, the government is expected to advance the dissolution resolution slated for next week in order to deny space to the Benjamin Netanyahu-led opposition to try and form an alternative government without any elections.
The Netanyahu-led opposition has the support of 55 members of Knesset (MKs). It needs the support of at least six more MKs to form a government. Given the combination of the coalition and larger distribution of seats in the Knesset, it is difficult for Netanyahu to form a government until some of the major partners in Bennett’s coalition switch sides.
Bennett has been struggling to keep its eight party-coalition intact for some months now. Several of its members announced their resignation from the parliament, some of them blaming the coalition for compromising on fundamental Zionist principles.
Bennett’s coalition came to power in June 2021 following the fourth inconclusive elections in two years. The coalition had constituents from the right, the left, and, for the first time in Israel’s history, from the Arab party Ra’am. It had managed the support of 61 members in the 120-member Knesset. However, one of the members of Bennett’s own Yamina party, Idit Silman, decided to resign from the Knesset in April after blaming the coalition government of compromising the Zionist nature of Israel.
A major tussle ensued among the partners of the coalition over the extension of a law which provides citizenship rights to illegal settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories. The law failed after a member of the Arab Ra’am party and one from the leftist Meretz voted against its extension in the first week of June.
Most of the opposition, which supports the legislation in principle, also voted against it just to see the government fail. The Bennett-led coalition is now claiming that lack of support from the opposition will lead to chaos in the country after June 30 when the law expires, saying that it will not allow that to happen.
This bill not passing also has policy implications. The possibility of settlers living under military rule is a reminder that they do not actually live in Israel. If Likud and Religious Zionism form a govt, annexation will be back on the agenda and little will stand in its way.
— Israel Policy Forum (@IsraelPolicy4m) June 9, 2022
Once the Knesset is dissolved, the law will be automatically extended for six more months. As per human rights groups, the law establishes a system of apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Fresh elections are likely to take place in October, the fifth to be held in less than four years.
If Israeli elections happen, the date will be October 25. Normally, it would be sooner; the delay is due to the Jewish holidays in September/October. https://t.co/irKhr5m6SL
— Yair Rosenberg (@Yair_Rosenberg) June 20, 2022