Israel’s parliament voted Thursday to dissolve itself, putting an end to the year-old coalition government and signaling to the public that they will head to the polls for the fifth time in less than four years.
Yair Lapid – a center left leader – will become the country’s caretaker prime minister. He will assume the position from Naftali Bennett, who will become the country’s shortest serving leader.
Last year’s election saw the ousting of the country’s longtime leader Benjamin Netanyahu in favor of an experimental coalition government that embraced ideologically diverse parties and was the first in the nation’s history to include an Arab faction. The government that has now collapsed included eight parties from across the spectrum of Israeli politics, all attempting to find common ground following a period of prolonged government gridlock during which Israelis headed to the polls four times in two years.
The next set of elections will be held on November 1.
Lapid, who will welcome U.S. President Joe Biden to Israel when he visits next week, will likely campaign to keep the top job in November. Bennett announced his retirement, for now, from politics, though he will remain the alternate prime minister in the transition government. Meanwhile, Netanyahu, it is speculated, has been planning his comeback since the moment of his ousting. Polls indicate that Netanyahu and his allies will likely gain seats in parliament during the next election, though it is unclear if they will gain enough to form a 61-seat majority. If they do not, Israelis may be forced to head to the polls yet again.
Earlier this month, the Israeli government failed to renew an emergency law that enables Jews living in the West Bank the legal status they require to continue doing so. The legislation is understood by a majority of Israelis to be essential. The timing of the Knesset’s dissolution means the law will stay in effect until the next government is formed, however, this one’s failure to renew the law was the straw that broke the camel’s back of the shaky coalition.
In a speech ahead of the vote to dissolve the government, Netanyahu said, “They promised change, they spoke about healing, they tried an experiment, and the experiment failed. We are the only alternative: a strong, stable, responsible nationalist government.