JERUSALEM — Israel’s weakened coalition government decided Monday to dissolve parliament and call a new election, the country’s fifth in three years.
The vote, expected later this year, could bring about the return of a nationalist religious government led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or another prolonged period of political gridlock.
In a nationally televised news conference, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said it wasn’t easy to disband the government, but he called it “the right decision for Israel.”
The fragile coalition government, which includes parties from across the political spectrum, lost its majority earlier this year and has faced rebellions from different lawmakers in recent weeks.
Bennett Promises ‘Orderly Transition’
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will take over from Bennett on an interim basis in an agreement they announced together.
Bennett listed a series of accomplishments and promised an “orderly” transition.
Lapid thanked Bennett for putting the country ahead of his personal interests.
“Even if we’re going to elections in a few months, our challenges as a state cannot wait,” Lapid said.
Netanyahu Welcomes Parliament’s Dissolution
Netanyahu said the dissolution of parliament was “great tidings” for millions of Israelis, and said he would form “a broad nationalist government headed by Likud” after the upcoming elections.
Israel held four inconclusive elections between 2019 and 2021 that were largely referendums about Netanyahu’s ability to rule while on trial for corruption. Netanyahu denies wrongdoing.
Opinion polls have forecast that Netanyahu’s hardline Likud will once again emerge as the largest single party. But it remains unclear whether he would be able to muster the required support of a majority of lawmakers to form a new government.