Israel is headed for its fifth election in three years after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he had agreed to dissolve his fractious coalition. It came after a handful of coalition members walked out, leaving Bennet without a clear majority in parliament. The decision comes weeks before U.S. President Joe Biden is due to visit Israel.
An emotional Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he had tried hard to keep his year-old coalition government together but was no longer able to make it work. He said it was a tough decision but best for the country, which was paralyzed without a coalition majority.
He said he will step aside to be replaced by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid until elections, probably in October. He said the year-old government had many achievements both diplomatically and in the security field.
He said a vote will be held in parliament next week to dissolve the government after which Lapid, a former journalist, will take over as interim prime minister.
Biden is set to visit Israel and Saudi Arabia in July during a Middle East trip to strengthen regional security ties.
Lapid spoke briefly after Bennett, thanking him for putting the interests of the country ahead of his own.
Israeli analysts said the big winner of the night was opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that he was happy that what he called the worst government in Israel’s history had come to an end.
Netanyahu was prime minister for 12 years until Bennett managed to put together a coalition just over a year ago. Netanyahu said he would win the next election despite an ongoing corruption trial.
Editors note: Earlier version contained inaccurate information on Yair Lapid’s experience and current position.