Israel heading to new elections after shaky coalition collapses

Israel’s fragile coalition government will vote to dissolve the Parliament next week, announced Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office on Monday, sending the country to the fifth elections in three years.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his main coalition partner, Alternate Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, decided to present a bill to dissolve the Parliament next Monday, the office said in a statement. 

Once the Parliament approves the bill, Lapid, leader of the centrist party of Yesh Atid, will rotate with Prime Minister Bennett and serve as interim prime minister until the next government is established, the office said. 

The elections are expected to take place in October, Israel’s state-owned Kan TV news reported. 

“Citizens of Israel, we stand before you today in a difficult moment, but with the understanding that we have made the right decision for the people of Israel,” Prime Minister Bennett said in a joint statement alongside Lapid, which was broadcast live on the country’s main TV channels.

Prime Minister Bennett noted that he and Lapid decided on the move in the wake of their failure to pass regulations that provided protections to Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank. 

The regulations will expire at the end of June, but the opposition, mostly composed of pro-settler parties, voted against a government-sponsored bill to extend them in order to force the coalition to resign. 

Prime Minister Bennett, leader of the pro-settler party of Yamina, said he held a series of consultations with judicial and security officials on Friday that made him realise that the expiration of the regulation will create “horrible damages.” 

He said the coalition “left no stone unturned” in an attempt to raise enough votes to pass the bill in the Parliament, but the efforts were “fruitless.”

Prime Minister Bennett and Lapid have struggled to keep together the shaky coalition of eight parties since its establishment last year, but a series of defections left it without a majority in the Parliament for more than two months. 

Last week, Nir Orbach, a lawmaker with Bennett’s Yamina party, announced he was resigning from the coalition because it had failed in “lifting Israelis’ spirits.” 

After his leave, the coalition was left with only 59 seats in the 120-seat parliament. Other lawmakers also threatened to rebel.  -Xinhua

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