Netanyahu makes last-ditch effort to block Lapid from becoming PM as Knesset poised to dissolve

Right-wing lawmakers trying to delay dissolution of Knesset, prevent Yair Lapid from becoming prime minister this week.

By World Israel News Staff

The Knesset is poised to dissolve itself this week, sending Israel to its fifth general election in three years and ending Naftali Bennett’s year as prime minister.

The Knesset could vote as early as Monday to dissolve itself, a move which would trigger a coalition agreement ending Bennett’s term as premier and rotating Yair Lapid – currently Israel’s Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister – in as the head of the caretaker government.

According to Hebrew media reports, Israeli security personnel are preparing for the possibility of Lapid becoming prime minister as early as Tuesday.

Coalition MKs hope to quickly wrap up committee deliberations on the bill proposed last week which would dissolve the current Knesset, and bring the law for a vote in the Knesset plenum.

The Knesset gave unanimous preliminary backing to the bill last week, sending it to committee for review. The bill must win committee backing before heading back to the Knesset plenum for final approval.

But MK Nir Orbach, a rogue Yamina lawmaker who earlier this month bolted the coalition, has indicated he will slow walk the bill, giving opposition MKs an opportunity to try to cobble together an alternative coalition government.

As chairman of the Knesset’s powerful House Committee, Orbach could stretch out the approval process for the bill dissolving the Knesset, giving opposition and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu time to try to negotiate with coalition MKs from Yamina, New Hope, and even the center-left Blue and White party.

The timing of the Knesset vote also increases pressure on the outgoing government, which failed to pass legislation extending the so-called “Judea and Samaria Law,” which applies Israeli law in Judea and Samaria, via the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration, without extending Israeli sovereignty.

Extended every five years, the Judea and Samaria Law is set to expire at the end of this month, potentially imperiling the legal status of the hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens who live beyond the Green Line.

The law will be automatically extended by several months if the Knesset votes to dissolve itself and call new elections, but could expire if efforts to delay the vote and form a new government drag on beyond this Thursday.

MK Gilad Kariv (Labor), chairman of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, vowed last Thursday to fast-track the dissolution bill in his own committee, removing it from the purview of Orbach’s House Committee.

The Constitution Committee could approve the bill on Sunday, sending it to the Knesset plenum for ratification.

The Knesset’s legal adviser warned that Kariv’s decision may not have legal standing, and could potentially be overruled.

Coalition MKs hoping to bar Netanyahu are also pushing legislation which would prevent a candidate under criminal indictment from forming a new government – a bill aimed specifically at the opposition leader, who is currently on trial in three separate graft cases.

The bill was brought to the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee under MK Kariv Sunday morning, sparking a shouting match between opposition and coalition lawmakers.