On Friday, Foreign Minister Jair Lapid will officially take over as caretaker prime minister under the terms of a coalition agreement reached last year between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Lapid. Former journalist and TV presenter Lapid will not be officially sworn in as caretaker prime minister.
Thursday’s 92-0 vote finally concludes Bennett’s slow move to end his term as prime minister – one of the shortest in Israeli history – and gives former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a potential way to return to power.
After the vote, Lapid and Bennett wrapped their arms around each other, hugged, and changed seats as Lapid became prime minister.
As they left the Knesset, Bennett accidentally took Lapid’s cell phone. “Brother,” Lapid said, “you took my phone.” Bennett replied, “Brother, you took my job.”
New elections will be held on November 1 – the fifth round of voting for Israelis in less than four years. Recent opinion polls suggest that former Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party is on the path to winning the most seats, but polls do not show that his right-wing bloc will necessarily have enough seats to win a parliamentary majority and form a ruling government.
Netanyahu addressed parliament before the final vote and promised to return to power.
“We are the only alternative: a strong national government, stable and responsible. A government that will return national honor to the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu said.
The night before the break-up, Bennett announced that he would withdraw from politics and not run for re-election.
“I will remain a loyal soldier in this country, where I have served as a soldier, officer, minister and prime minister all my life. The state of Israel is the love of my life. It is my destiny to serve it,” Bennett said. .speaking in front of the nation. “Now is the time to step back a bit. Look at everything from the outside.”
The coalition government has been in no hurry for weeks. But Bennett and Lapid’s announcement last week that they wanted to dissolve their governments and hand over power to Lapid came as a surprise.
“In the last few weeks, we have done our best to save this government. In our view, it was in the national interest for it to continue to exist,” Bennett said, standing alongside Lapid earlier this month.
“Believe me, we looked under every rock. We did it not for ourselves, but for our beautiful country, you, the citizens of Israel,” Bennett added.
The Bennett-Lapid government was sworn in last June, ending Netanyahu’s more than 12-year-old prime ministership.
The coalition of at least eight political parties covered the entire political spectrum, including, for the first time, the Arab party led by Mansour Abbas.
Coalition partners, united in their desire to prevent Netanyahu from remaining in power, whose corruption trial began in May 2020, have agreed to set aside significant differences.
Although significant domestic and diplomatic achievements were made, the result was domestic policy that toppled the coalition.
In recent weeks, a number of coalition members have either resigned or threatened to resign, leaving the government without a majority in parliament to pass legislation.
The political stalemate resulted in a Knesset vote earlier this month that did not support Israeli criminal and civil laws against Israelis in the occupied West Bank.
Among other things, the regulation, which is renewed every five years, treats Israeli settlers in the Palestinian territories as legally within Israel’s borders and is a matter of trust for right-wing members of the coalition, including the prime minister. Minister Bennett.
However, two members of the coalition refused to support the bill, ie it was not adopted.
As the parliamentary law was passed before the expiration of July 1, the regulations will remain in force until a new government is formed and will be put to a new vote at that time.
Andrew Carey contributed to this report.