Israel calls its fifth elections in three years

The fall of the “government of change” just one year after its constitution condemns the country to its fifth elections in little more than three years. “It was a tough decision but it is the best thing for the country,” announced Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, after weeks of dodging political crises. Next week the Knesset will be dissolved and probably in late October or early November, Israelis will vote again.

The coalition made up of eight political formations of disparate ideologies, created with the sole objective of unseating Binyamin Netanyahu, has barely lasted a year and a few days. His 12 years in power seemed to be over, but the party of the accused in several corruption cases leads the polls. “Unlike the opposition, which turned Israel’s security into a political pawn, I refuse to damage it even for one day,” Bennett said, referring to the fact that the temporary laws applying Israeli law to settlers would have expired at the end of the month.

This has been the ultimate trigger that has finally cracked the fragile foundations of the multi-colored coalition. The expiration of the emergency law that has so far allowed Israeli settlers to enjoy the protection of Israeli law, even while living in the occupied West Bank, has led to disagreements within the Executive. Several defections among its members have prevented the Executive from extending the law, an embarrassing blow for Bennett, who, before governing the country, was one of the leaders of the settler movement.

The coexistence of such different formations in the same government, including an Islamist party for the first time in the more than 70 years of Israel’s history, has brought about its own end. The decision has taken by surprise such important members of the coalition as the Minister of the Interior, Ayelet Shaked, a great ally of Bennett, or Benny Gantz, who governed with Bibi. After the dissolution of the Knesset next week, the hitherto Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, will lead the country, in accordance with the pact that allowed the two most voted parties in April 2021 to form a government and get rid of Netanyahu. Before the formation of this historic Executive, Israel lived in an endless electoral cycle: four elections in two years.

“A year ago we formed a government that seemed impossible, which stopped the severe leadership paralysis,” Bennett has declared on television. “We formed a good government and together we brought Israel out of the depression, the country returned to governance,” he has added. Meanwhile, Netanyahu, delighted in front of the cameras, has celebrated the fall of the government, but not before branding as “farce” and “brainwashing” the disinterested statements of the still prime minister. “Everyone is smiling” at the fall of the government, which “gave in” to terror, he has affirmed overflowing with enthusiasm in the Knésset.

Bibi has already promised more normalization agreements, following those of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. He has acknowledged that he is preparing for elections, but does not rule out an alternative government in the current Knesset if the right-wing parliamentarians abandon their “personal boycott” of him. With this new turn in Israeli politics, there is a return to misgovernment and paralysis in the face of an increasingly right-wing national scene.

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