Explained: Israel Heading For Fifth Election In Three Years After Coalition Govt Collapses

by Swarajya Staff - Jun 21, 2022 05:44 PM +05:30 IST
Explained: Israel Heading For Fifth Election In Three Years After Coalition Govt CollapsesKnesset, the Israeli Parliament
Snapshot
  • The current Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, will now switch places with Yair Lapid under an existing deal.

    The election might take place in late October.

“We did everything we possibly could to preserve this government, whose survival we see as a national interest, to my regret, our efforts did not succeed,” said Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in a televised speech to the nation.

Bennett headed a coalition government of eight political parties, the most diverse ruling coalition in Israel's history. The coalition included arch nationalist parties, such as Bennett's own party, centrists and leftists. The coalition also included an Arab party. This was the first instance that an Arab party was included in a governing coalition in Israel.

This coalition succeeded in ending the 12 year rule of Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel.

The internal contradictions of the coalition eventually led to its downfall.

According to a report by the BBC, "Monday's announcement comes after weeks of speculation that the coalition - the most diverse in Israel's history - was on the brink of collapse. It risked losing an important vote next week after a member of Mr Bennett's own right-wing Yamina party quit the coalition, leaving it a minority in the 120-seat Knesset".

The country is now set for its fifth election in three years. The current Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, will now switch places with Yair Lapid under an existing deal.

The terms of the coalition agreement were that Bennett would cede his job to Lapid, during the election campaign, if the government collapsed because of right-wing defections. Lapid is a centrist.

The political uncertainty comes at an already delicate time for Israel. There has been an escalation in a clandestine war between Israel and Iran. It also complicates American President Joe Biden's visit. He is set to visit the country next month in his first trip to Israel as the President. Political stability in Israel would have been desirable but Israel, in recent years, has witnessed only political instability.

Biden will be welcomed by Yair Lapid, who will become the caretaker Prime Minister. He currently serves as the foreign minister.

This coalition government was supposed to end a series of inconclusive elections and policy paralysis. The inconclusive elections were the result of Netanyahu's failure to secure an outright majority for his party, four times in a row.

Last June, when the coalition came to power and Bennett became the Prime Minister, many hoped that the period of political instability will finally end.

The fractious alliance was formed after four inconclusive elections in two years had left Israel without a state budget or a functional government.

The coalition government succeeded in passing the long delayed budget.

Now, the latest polls predict yet another stalemate in the elections. The election might take place in late October.

Netanyahu said that this was "great news for millions of Israeli citizens". "This government is going home," he said, adding that he would form "a wide, national government" headed by his Likud party.

Whether or not political stability lies in Israel's future depends now on a party's ability to win a majority. The Israel Channel 12 TV poll indicated that Netanyahu's Likud party will win the most number of seats but still fall two seats short of the majority mark.

Netanyahu hopes to prove the opinion polls wrong.

“We formed a government which many believed was an impossible one — we formed it in order to stop the terrible tailspin Israel was in the midst of,” Bennett said in his speech.

“Together we were able to pull Israel out from the hole,” he added.

Netanyahu attacked the coalition government by alleging that the government relied on "supporters of terror".

“A government that depended on terror supporters, which abandoned the personal security of the citizens of Israel, that raised the cost of living to unheard-of heights, that imposed unnecessary taxes, that endangered our Jewish entity. This government is going home." said Netanyahu.

Palestinian Israeli lawmakers celebrated the coalition government's collapse for different reasons.

“This government implemented a radical far-right policy of expanding settlements, destroying houses, and carrying out ethnic cleansing in the occupied territories. It threw crumbs to the Arabs in exchange for conceding fundamental political principles," said Aida Touma-Suleiman, an opposition lawmaker and a member of Israel’s Palestinian minority.

Also Read: Explained: French President Emmanuel Macron Loses Majority In Parliament Two Months After Re-Election

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