Israelis set for FIFTH election since 2019 as leaders admit coalition is bust

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Israelis set for FIFTH election since 2019 as leaders admit coalition is bust

Naftali Bennett will be replaced by Yair Lapid if MKs vote to dissolve the Knesset next week; Netanyahu says 'great news'

Michael Daventry is Jewish News’s foreign and broadcast editor

Naftali Bennett and Leader of the Opposition Yair Lapid.
Naftali Bennett and Leader of the Opposition Yair Lapid.

Israelis are to go to the polls for the fifth time in barely three years after the leaders of its discordant coalition admitted they could no longer hold the government together.

A new election will be called for Tuesday 25 October, the first full week after the Jewish High Holy Days, if the Knesset votes to dissolve itself next week.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said “no stone was left unturned” in his bid to keep the coalition afloat, but that they exhausted all options.

Under the terms of the coalition agreement he will hand the reins to Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who will become Israel’s 14th prime minister.

But an election could also pave the return of opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, the former premier.

“Together, we got Israel out of the pit. We accomplished many things in this year. First and foremost, we brought to centre stage the values of fairness and trust,” Bennett said.

Lapid added: “What has happened in the past few days, what has happened here tonight, is further proof that the Israeli system is in need of serious change and major repairs.

“What we need to do today is go back to the concept of Israeli unity. Not to let dark forces tear us apart from within. To remind ourselves that we love one another, love our country.”

Bennett’s departure means it would be Lapid who greets US President Joe Biden when he visits Israel next month.

Netanyahu called the collapse of the government “great news for millions of Israelis”.

“I must tell you that this this evening people are smiling,” he said, “because they feel that despite this consciousness modification, which we also heard tonight [from Bennett and Lapid], they understand that something great happened here.

“We are getting rid of the worst government in Israel’s history.”

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