Knesset to disband with Lapid as caretaker PM; Israel going to elections

Elections widely expected to be at end of October.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

After weeks of uncertainty, Israel’s tottering coalition government announced plans to dissolve the Knesset and call new elections with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid serving as caretaker Prime Minister until a new government is sworn in.

No date has been set for elections, but it is widely believed they will be held at the end of October following the Jewish holidays. The elections would be Israel’s fifth in the past three years.

The government will introduce a bill to disperse the Knesset next week.

Under the terms of Bennett and Lapid’s rotation agreement, Lapid becomes prime minister if the Knesset is dispersed before the two were scheduled to rotate.

The government sworn in barely over one year ago was a coalition of eight ideologically disparate parties spanning from the right-wing Yamina, Yisrael Beiteinu and New Hope, the centrist Yesh Atid and Blue and White, and the left-wing Labor and Meretz.

It also included, Ra’am, the first Arab party to participate in an Israeli government.

The eight parties were united in their desire to block Benjamin Netanyahu from continuing as prime minister. Netanyahu is currently on trial, indicted on charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu maintains his innocence.

Israeli voters are divided on Netanyahu and that split is reflected in the Knesset with the government holding a one-seat majority.

According to polls, if elections were held today, Netanyahu’s Likud would emerge as the largest party in the 120-seat Knesset, but would not necessarily be able to form a government with the right-wing and religious parties.

The outgoing government’s notable accomplishments included navigating the country through the COVID pandemic without a lockdown, passing a national budget after two years of political gridlock, escalating a shadow war with Iran, and expanding diplomatic, economic and security ties with Abraham accord allies Morocco, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.