Israeli Government Topples: Netanyahu Hopes to Return to Power as Lapid Appointed Interim PM

Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid make a joint s

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Monday evening said they were dissolving the 24th Knesset, in a bombshell announcement that will send Israelis to the polls for the fifth election in three years.

The coalition will introduce a bill to disperse the Knesset as early as Wednesday, according to Hebrew media reports.

As per the coalition agreement between Bennett and Lapid, the latter will take over as interim prime minister of a caretaker government until elections are held at the end of October.

Bennett said the dramatic decision, which followed weeks of failed bills, was in the “best interests of the country.”

“We are facing you today in a very difficult moment, but with the understanding that we made the right decision for Israel,” he said alongside Lapid in a press briefing on Monday evening.

Israel’s former premier Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the press at the Knesset (parliament) in Jerusalem on June 20, 2022. Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Foreign Minister Yair Lapid ‘will soon take over’ as premier, after the pair agreed to new elections. (OREN BEN HAKOON/AFP via Getty)

The decision was spurred by the government’s failure to pass a key bill extending civil law to Israeli residents in the West Bank.

The opposition, led by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, scuttled the bill’s preliminary vote — even though ideologically it was in favor of it — because it sought to topple the government at any cost.

If the bill does not pass by July 1, the ramifications would be enormous and Israel would pay a heavy security price.

Nearly half a million Israelis who live in the West Bank would not be bound by Israeli law and would not have voting rights. Israelis who commit crimes in those areas will be tried in military courts and serve time in the West Bank.

Furthermore, Israel Police will no longer have the jurisdiction to investigate Israeli settlers who are suspected of committing crimes, and neither would it have the power to investigate Israelis — including Arab citizens of Israel — who commit crimes inside Israel and who subsequently fled to the West Bank.

Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid leave after making make a joint statement to the press in Jerusalem on June 20, 2022. (OREN BEN HAKOON/AFP via Getty Images)

“I did not agree to harm Israel’s security,” Bennett said on Monday evening.

Summarizing the past year of governance, the departing prime minister said: “We formed a government that many thought was impossible. We extracted Israel from the terrible pit it was in. A year ago there was mass unemployment, a big deficit, riots, missiles on Jerusalem. There was paralysis on the part the government. With the help of God, we managed to form a government.”

Lapid said the hard decision to dissolve the Knesset was proof Israel was “in desperate need of a profound change.”

“We need to return to a place of unity and not allow the forces of darkness unravel us from within. We need to remind ourselves that we love each other, love our country, and that only by working together can we win,” said the foreign minister.


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