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Israeli PM to dissolve Knesset after coalition collapses, paving way for fifth election in last five years

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid

Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett has submitted a bill to dissolve parliament as his fragile coalition cabinet collapses, triggering the path for a fifth round of elections in three years. 

In a joint statement on Monday evening, Bennett and current foreign minister Yair Lapid, two key leading coalition partners, announced the move to dissolve the Knesset.

“After exhausting all efforts to stabilize the coalition, prime minister Naftali Bennett and... Yair Lapid have decided to submit a bill” dissolving parliament “next week,” they said.

If the bill is approved, Bennett will become the shortest-serving premier in the regime’s history after serving 12 months and one week, and Lapid will act as the interim premier - Israel’s 14th prime minister - until the next election, likely to be held on October 15.

The fragile eight-party coalition was formed in June 2021 after four successive inconclusive elections. The ideologically divided alliance included right-wingers like Bennett, Lapid's centrist Yesh Atid party, left-wingers and, for the first time in Israeli history, lawmakers from an Arab Islamist party.

Defections have left the crumbling alliance without a majority in parliament for over two months. The political quake, however, took place after the Israeli cabinet survived two votes of no confidence in the Knesset earlier in the day by a vote of 57-52, in spite of rebellions in the coalition. 

The unlikely alliance, which was formed to end the tenure of longest-serving premier Benjamin Netanyahu, was under threat from its inception. Back in April, it lost its majority in Israel's 120-seat Knesset after a member of Bennett's Yamina party announced her departure.

Led by Netanyahu, the Likud party, which acts as the main opposition against the coalition cabinet, had earlier warned that it would submit its own bill to prorogue the Knesset on Wednesday. However, Bennett and Lapid seem to have moved to preempt the opposition move.

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