Knesset dissolved, Lapid will be Israel’s new PM; Elections set for November 1

Yair Lapid to be sworn in as Prime Minister at midnight as Knesset dissolves itself Thursday. 

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel’s legislature voted to dissolve itself Thursday morning, bringing an end to the 24th Knesset and forcing Israel into its fifth round of elections in three years.

The elections for the 25th Knesset will be held on Tuesday, November 1st.

The final tally was 92 in favor of the bill dissolving the Knesset, with no MKs opposing.

Labor MKs walked out before the vote to protest its signature transportation reform not passing its first reading, which means the process of making it into law will have to begin from scratch after the new government is formed after the election.

The Opposition Joint List voted with the coalition for the November date instead of supporting its colleagues who wanted elections held a week earlier, on October 25.

Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will become prime minister at midnight, although he and Naftali Bennett immediately switched seats in the Knesset after the vote.

The latest polls show that the political stalemate in the country has not changed since March 2021, when the unity government was formed by cobbling together parties from the right, left and center who would not sit with Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

A survey by the Midgam polling agency showed that Likud leads with 34 seats. Next is Yesh Atid, which would get 20. After that, all parties are currently in the single digits: Blue and White and Religious Zionism receive nine each; the Hareidi Shas and United Torah Judaism – eight and seven, respectively; the Joint List would get six; Labor and Yisrael Beitenu would both get five mandates; and Ra’am (United Arab List), Meretz and New Hope are all teetering on the threshold of four seats.

The anti-Netanyahu bloc thus is projected to win a total of 56 seats, while the Opposition, excluding the Arab Joint List, reaches 58 mandates. This means – again – that at least one of the right-wing parties that refused to sit under Netanyahu after each one of the inconclusive elections before the unity government, would have to soften its stance for the Likud to take power again.

Although the situation can always change after election results are in, Yisrael Beitenu and New Hope have currently ruled this possibility out. This leaves only Yamina as a question mark.

The party has undergone an upheaval over the last year, with its leader, Naftali Bennett, going back on a campaign promise not to sit with the Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid so he could lead the unity government. This resulted in the rebellion within the party which ultimately saw the departure of three MKs.

Bennett announced Wednesday that he would be taking a break from politics after serving as alternate prime minister in the caretaker government, adding that his long-time ally, Ayelet Shaked, would be taking over the party.

If Shaked brings Yamina back into the right-wing-religious fold, that would give the nationalist-religious partnership the majority.

Interestingly, Netanyahu has also not ruled out having an Arab party in the government, as long as the coalition does not depend on its votes to survive.

However, in his speech before the vote, Netanyahu bashed the Bennett government’s alliance with the Ra’am party.

“The experiment failed. This is what happens when you have a fake Right with the extreme Left, and mix into it the Muslim Brotherhood and the Joint List.”

Ra’am is affiliated with the southern branch of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, while the Joint List voted several times recently with the government even though it is in the Opposition.

“That’s exactly what the upcoming election is about,” Netanyahu continued, asking if “a failure of a Lapid government” that depends on “supporters of terrorism” will arise, or “a broad and strong national government … that will bring back to Israel its pride, power and hope?”

He described the past year as a time when “something fundamental has gone wrong” in the country, listing among other crises the ongoing school and public transportation strikes and the rising costs of living “that’s hitting everyone’s pocket.”

Nationally speaking, he added, “Personal security was undermined, national dignity was humiliated, fear of our enemies increased, Israeli flags were removed and PLO flags were raised.”