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Naftali Bennett to dissolve Israel government hold new elections


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TEL AVIV — Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced Monday that they plan to dissolve the Knesset next week, setting the stage for a fifth round of general elections in less than four years.

If the vote to dissolve parliament passes, Lapid will become the interim prime minister, though Bennett will continue to be in charge of the Iran portfolio, as was outlined in their power-sharing agreement. Elections are likely to take place on Oct. 25, according to Israeli media.

Bennett and Lapid said in a joint statement that they had “exhausted options to stabilize” their coalition, made up of an ideological kaleidoscope of parties — including left-wing peaceniks, right-wing supporters of settlers, and, for the first time in Israeli history, an Arab Islamist party — that were united a year ago by their desire to oust then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

For weeks, that coalition has been teetering on the brink of collapse as three members, including two from Bennett’s own right-wing Yamina party, defected, stripping the government of its majority and its ability to pass legislation.

To accelerate the coalition’s demise earlier this month, Netanyahu — the longest-serving prime minister in Israel’s history — rallied his party and other usually pro-settler lawmakers of the opposition to vote down a usually uncontroversial measure that enables civilian law to be applied to Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank. The expected dissolution of the Knesset next week means an automatic renewal of the law.

“It is good news for millions of Israeli citizens,” Netanyahu said in a video post on Twitter. “A government that will return national pride to the citizens of Israel, so you can walk on the streets with your heads held high.”

The development comes a week after President Biden announced plans for a July 14 visit to Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia. Biden’s visit will take place as planned, according to Israeli media, which said he will meet with Lapid.

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