Yair Lapid to Become Israel Prime Minister as Naftali Bennett Steps Down and Moves to Dissolve Knesset

Israel's Right Wing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who came to power last year after putting together a coalition of extremely unseemly allies, is stepping down.

Bennett is proposing the dissolution of the parliament, and the Israeli lawmakers will vote on the proposal next week. If the proposal is approved, Israel will see a fifth election in three years, which will be held later this year. In the meantime, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who is the leader of the biggest party in the ruling coalition, will become the Prime Minister.

Right Decision

"We are standing before you today in a moment that is not easy, but with the understanding we made the right decision for Israel," Bennett said in an address to the nation.

Naftali Bennett, Israeli Prime Minister
Naftali Bennett, Israeli Prime Minister Wikimedia Commons

Bennett's nationalist Yamina party had won only six seats in the 120-member Parliament, making his ascension to premiership a folklore story of sorts. Under the terms of the coalition deal, he was supposed to cede power to L apid in 2023.

Deep Divisions

However, deep divisions in the ragtag eight-party coalition brought early strains to the government. The allies, who comprise hard Right, liberals and even Arab parties differed drastically on issues ranging from religion to Palestine. High-profile defections also marred the coalition, which had come to power on a 65-60 vote in the Knesset.

Yair Lapid
Yair Lapid Wikimedia Commons

Bennett said his government boosted economic growth, reduced unemployment and brought down the budget deficit.

Bennett, a 49-year-old Orthodox Jew and ultra right-winger who was once a loyalist of Benjamin Netanyahu, had found his days in office challenging as his coalition was a mixed bag of parties with conflicting ideologies and agenda.

Naftali Bennett with Benjamin Netanyahu
Naftali Bennett with Benjamin Netanyahu YouTube Grab

Biden's Visit

Lapid, who is preparing to take the helm ahead of a key visit to Israel by US President Joe Biden, said he will address issues like cost of living. "We need to tackle the cost of living, wage the campaign against Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah, and stand against the forces threatening to turn Israel into a non-democratic country," he said, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Bennett's leaving is a welcome decision. "This evening people are smiling ... They understand something great happened here. We are getting rid of the worst government in the country's history," he said. The Israeli strongman also said his Likud party will come back to power.