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June 29, 2022 9:03 am
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Israel Heads Towards Snap Election, Lapid Poised to Be PM

avatar by i24 News

 

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett attend a preliminary reading at the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, of a bill to dissolve the parliament, in Jerusalem, June 22, 2022. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

i24 News – Israel’s parliament is expected to dissolve Wednesday, ending Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s year-long tenure and triggering a fifth election in less than four years that could see ex-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu reclaim power.

Barring an 11th hour shock agreement to save the coalition or form a new government within the existing parliament, Bennett’s eight-party alliance is due to end by midnight, installing Foreign Minister Yair Lapid as prime minister.

The former television anchor is set to head a caretaker government, ahead of polls due in late October or early November.

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Bennett’s motley alliance formed in 2021 offered a reprieve from an unprecedented era of political gridlock, ending Netanyahu’s record 12 consecutive years in power and passing Israel’s first state budget since 2018.

Netanyahu has promised victory in new elections but may again struggle to rally a parliamentary majority, multiple polls have shown. He is currently on trial over corruption charges, which he denies.

The anti-Netanyahu camp will likely be led by Lapid, a centrist former TV celebrity. Dismissed as a lightweight when he entered politics a decade ago, he has surprised many with his political skills.

As he and Bennett announced last week that their coalition was no longer tenable, Lapid sought to cast Netanyahu’s potential return to office as a national threat.

“What we need to do today is go back to the concept of Israeli unity. Not to let dark forces tear us apart from within,” Lapid said.

While parliament’s collapse appeared a near certainty, last-minute surprises remained possible given Israel’s volatile political climate.

Factions across the political spectrum fear fresh polls will see them lose seats or end up out of parliament entirely by falling below the minimum support threshold, which is 3.25 percent of all votes cast. But options to avoid another election were growing increasingly remote, according to Israeli reports.

That means Lapid is expected to take office at midnight after parliament gives final approval to a dissolution bill, in accordance with the power-sharing deal he agreed with Bennett last June.

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