Israel’s 5th Elections In 4 Years To Be Held In November

The Israeli Knesset has dissolved itself and sent the country to the polls on the 1st of November in what is going to be the 5th election since 2019. The parliament disbanded on Thursday 30 by a majority of 92 votes, a little over 14 months after it convened and a year after the government was sworn in.

Yair Lapid, Israel’s foreign minister and architect of the outgoing coalition government, will become the country’s caretaker prime minister just after midnight on Friday. He has succeeded Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and will hold the post through the elections until a new coalition is formed.

As Al Jazeera says, he will be the 14th person to hold that office, taking over from Naftali Bennett, Israel’s shortest-serving prime minister.

Bennett will take the title of alternate prime minister and has said he would be taking a hiatus from politics and would not be running in the upcoming elections. The rest of the government’s ministers will stay in place, and lawmakers will largely shift from legislating to campaigning, states Times of Israel.

So far Israel’s opinion polls suggest another close election battle between parties supporting and opposing former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But whereas Netanyahu and his allies (Likud, Religious Zionism, Shas, and United Torah Judaism) won 52 seats in the March 2021 elections that led to the Bennett-Lapid coalition, now the polls show that the Netanyahu-led bloc could rise to 58-60 seats in the 120-member house, on the cusp of a majority.

Because the Knesset was dissolved before the end of the month, the emergency law is automatically renewed until after the formation of a new government.

A foretold death

This new call to the polls brings a formal end to a yearlong experiment in which eight parties from across Israel’s political spectrum tried to find common ground after the country held four elections in two years.

November elections continue to represent the ongoing Israeli political blockade, at the heart of which sits former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his corruption trial. Netanyahu heads the biggest party in Israel’s parliament, the right-wing Likud, and has been facing charges of accepting bribes, fraud, and breach of trust, although he has denied any wrongdoing.

The outgoing governing coalition made history by being the first to include an Arab party, the Islamic party Ra’am, but it was also dogged by its ideological divides.

This meant that it was the first time that a party representing Palestinian citizens of Israel was included. Mansour Abbas, leader of the United Arab List (Ra’am) faction, joined the coalition to secure better services and more government funding for Palestinians living in Israel, around 20% of the population.

Nevertheless, Palestinian citizens of Israel face widespread discrimination and are seen by many Jewish Israelis as a fifth column because they have close family ties to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and largely support their struggle for an end to the Israel occupation.

The latest blow to Bennett’s government came this month when the Israeli opposition voted down a push to uphold Israeli law in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The law has been in force since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and gives illegal settlers in the occupied West Bank the same rights as citizens in Israel. This one is automatically ratified by parliament every five years, but two members of the broad coalition, a member of the Arab Raam party and a member of the leftist Meretz party, voted at the first reading against the Bill.

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