Lapid to be Israeli PM ahead of election

June 21, 2022 by AAP J-Wire
Read on for article

Israeli parliamentarians will vote to dissolve parliament, opening the way for the country’s fifth election in three years, following weeks of pressure on Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s fragile ruling coalition.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid on March 21, 2022, at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv. Photo by Marc Israel Sellem/POOL

Bennett will step aside to be replaced by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, his partner in the unlikely coalition of opposites that ended former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s record 12-year rule 12 months ago.

Lapid, a former journalist who heads the largest party in the coalition, will serve as interim prime minister until new elections can be held.

“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 a televised statement as he stood alongside Lapid.

A vote will be held in parliament next week, after which Lapid will take over the premiership, according to Bennett’s spokesperson.

The move comes just weeks ahead of a planned visit by US President Joe Biden which the government had been counting on to help boost regional security ties against Israel’s longtime enemy Iran.

However, the eight-party coalition, including conservative, progressive and Arab parties with deep differences on questions from religion to the Palestinian issue, had faced growing strains as its slight majority was cut by defections.

“I think the government did very good work over the past year. It’s a shame the country has to be dragged into elections,” Defence Minister Benny Gantz, head of a centrist party in the coalition, said.

“But we will continue to function as a temporary government as much as possible,” he said.

A date for the snap parliamentary election was not announced but Israeli media reported it was likely to take place in October.

Lapid said he would not wait until the new elections to address the problems facing Israel.

“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.

Bennett, a former commando and tech millionaire who entered politics in 2013 defended his government’s record, saying it had boosted economic growth, cut unemployment and eliminated the deficit for the first time in 14 years.

But as pressure on the government increased in recent days, he was unable to hold the coalition together and decided to step aside before Netanyahu’s Likud party could table a motion of its own to dissolve parliament.

Netanyahu, who has vowed a comeback despite facing trial for corruption, said Likud would lead the next government and he poured scorn on Bennett, who was once one of his closest aides.

“This is an evening of great news for millions of citizens in Israel,” Netanyahu said.

“It’s clear to everyone that this government has been the biggest failure in the country’s history.”

The Zionist Federation of Australia has congratulated Yair Lapid on becoming interim prime minister.

ZFA Director of Public Affairs Bren Carlill said, “While few want another round of elections in Israel, we take pleasure in the smooth and cooperative transfer of power, and that the decision to dissolve government was not acrimonious. Although the Bennett Government was not long-lasting, it was marked by respect and cooperation. The leadership shown by Prime Minister Bennett and incoming Interim Prime Minister Lapid has set the example, and we thank and congratulate them.”
Dr Carlill continued, “The Bennett Government will be remembered for the decision to include an Arab party in the coalition. At the time a momentous decision by both Jewish and Arab parties, we believe the involvement of Arab parties in Israeli governing coalitions will become normal, and so it should.”
Dr Carlill also congratulated Mr Lapid. “The entire Australian Jewish community extends its very best wishes to Mr Lapid. He is a man of talent, intellect and grace, who will take the reins at an important time in Israeli history.”
Dr Colin Rubenstein, executive director of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council added: “Despite its collapse after only one year in office, Israel’s eight party Bennett-Lapid coalition government can certainly point to significant achievements.
These include passing a long-overdue, desperately needed  national budget, significant strides in improving Arab-Jewish relations inside Israel, maintaining recovery from the pandemic,and in foreign policy, numerous new steps building  on the promise of the historic  Abraham Accords. Israelis will again go back to the polls for the fifth time in three and a half years to make their democratic choice, and hopefully a government with a stable majority can emerge better able to deal with the multiple domestic and regional challenges the nation confronts.

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

Got something to say about this?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.