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Israel dissolves parliament, sets November election

June 30, 2022

Israel is heading to its fifth election in less than four years after the collapse of the government. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who leads a center-left party, is set to take over as interim prime minister.

Israel's parliament
The dissolution ends Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's one-year tenureImage: Ariel Schalit/AP Photo/picture alliance

Israeli lawmakers voted Thursday to dissolve parliament and send the country to its fifth elections in less than four years.

New polls are to be held on November 1.

Israel's foreign minister, Yair Lapid, will become caretaker prime minister just after midnight on Friday. He replaces Naftali Bennett, Israel's shortest-serving prime minister.

The dissolution measure passed with 92 votes in favor and none against. 

Bennett, who has said he will not seek reelection, led a coalition of eight diverse parties that ousted longtime Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu just over a year ago. The historic alliance of groups from the right and left as well as from the Arab minority had sought to end a period of unprecedented political gridlock, in which the country held four elections in two years.

Election could see Netanyahu, Lapid contest

In a statement Wednesday, Bennett said his government had left a "thriving, strong and secure country" and had shown that parties from different ends of the political spectrum could work together. The outgoing premier is also handing over the leadership of his nationalist Yamina party to Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked.

Netanyahu, who has been indicted for corruption, has vowed to return to power in the upcoming election. While polls show his right-wing Likud party could emerge as the strongest force, it is not yet clear whether they will have enough support to form a majority. 

Netanyahu's main rival is expected to be incoming interim Prime Minister Lapid, a former talk-show host who heads a center-left party. 

Prolonged political crisis

The outgoing governing coalition made history by being the first to include an Arab party, the Islamic party Ra'am, but it was also dogged by its ideological divides.

Bennett said the final straw came earlier this month, when the government failed to renew a measure that preserves the special legal status of roughly 475,000 Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.

Most Israelis view the legislation as essential. However, some Arab lawmakers in the coalition had refused to back a bill they said marked a de facto endorsement of an occupation that has forced West Bank Palestinians to live under Israeli rule.

The dissolution of parliament before the law's June 30 expiry automatically extends the measure until a new government is formed.

There has been a rise in violent clashes in the West Bank in recent months following a series of deadly attacks by Palestinians inside Israel, the death of an Al Jazeera journalist and near-daily Israeli raids there.

Israel seized the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War, and Palestinians seek the territory as a key part of their future state. Nearly 3 million Palestinians live there under Israeli military rule and alongside Israeli settlers.

nm/fb, ng (AP, AFP, Reuters)