Coalition Leaders Give Up, Agree to Dissolve Knesset, Hold New Elections

By Yisrael Price

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, center, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, second left, and other government ministers attend a cabinet meeting at the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem, Sunday, May 22, 2022. (Ronen Zvulun/Pool via AP)

YERUSHALAYIM — The coalition government which made itself the enemy of every aspect of Jewish tradition in the state of Israel finally announced its long-predicted demise on Monday, news that was welcomed joyfully by the charedi community.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid have agreed to dissolve the Knesset, ending months of uncertainty over the coalition’s future. Lapid, who is the rotating Prime Minister, will become the interim Prime Minister next week after a formal vote will be held in the Knesset next Monday to dissolve the government.

Lapid will hold office until elections can be held and a new government formed.

“Once approved, the rotation will be performed in an orderly manner. Prime Minister Bennett is now talking to party leaders,” Bennett and Lapid said a joint statement.

The announcement comes after months of successive crises, as MKs from Yamina, Ra’am, Meretz and Blue and White took turns in quitting and, in some cases, returning to the coalition, which lost its majority in the Knesset.

The timing of the decision, pre-empting a no-confidence motion on Wednesday, was due to the intention of Yamina MK Nir Orbach to vote to dissolve the Knesset, despite a long series of talks with Bennett who tried to woo him back to the coalition, or at least get his promise not to support dissolution until after President Biden’s planned visit in mid-July, according to a source close to Bennett quoted by The Times of Israel.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Bennett sources who said the decision was made at this juncture in order to initiate an election on their own terms and not be forced out by opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu.   

October 25 is being discussed as a likely date for elections.

Jubilant voices were heard immediately from the opposition, which had made toppling the coalition its priority, fought it on every bill and sought constantly to persuade its right-wing members to leave the government.

Opposition chief Binyamin Netanyahu hailed it as “great news for millions of Israeli citizens…it is clear to everyone that the worst government in Israeli history has come to an end.”

Netanyahu had long been at odds with the outgoing administration. “A government that was dependent on supporters of terrorism, that abandoned the personal security of Israeli citizens, that raised the cost of living to unprecedented heights, that imposed unnecessary taxes, that endangered the Jewish character of our state, this government is going home,” he declared in a statement.

Netanyahu also derided Bennett’s claim that he acted out of selflessness in forming and now dissolving the current government as a “charade” and “brainwashing.”

Knesset told reporters at the Knesset that “everyone is smiling” at the prospect of being rid of a government which he says “gave in” to terror and “caused the loss of personal security, raised the cost of living, and, most importantly, caused the loss of national pride.”

Netanyahu said that while he is preparing for elections, he does not rule out the possibility of forming an alternative government within the current Knesset.

Hagaon Harav Gershon Edelstein, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Ponevezh, received the news from United Torah Judaism chairman Rabbi Moshe Gafni.

Harav Edelstein rejoiced at the news and said “We see from this that the lomdei Torah have many zechu’yos, and that those who wish to harm them do not succeed.”

United Torah Judaism MK Uri Maklev said “An arrogant government that thought only of itself, and that tyrannically to undermine our right to exist, now disintegrates and passes from the world. This government that betrayed its supporters, assailed Kashrus, Shabbos and the Jewish character of the state. Yesh din v’yesh dayan.

Hagaon Harav Shalom Cohen shlit”a, Nasi of the Moetzet Chachmei Hatorah, though still recuperating in a hospital, was told of the development and said “Hashem’s name has been sanctified in the world! A government that attacked and tried to destroy Judaism and all that is holy to klal Yisrael, which attacked weak people…is gone from the world. Hakadosh Baruch Hu has been merciful with his people Yisrael!”

Shas MK Moshe Abutbul wrote on Twitter: “Baruch Podeh U’matzil! I am happy that after this long levaya, the date of burial for this government of losers has finally arrived. This government, that had no compassion for the weak, the elderly and the business owners, and which cause terrible damage to Jewish religious life in the country.”

Likud party sources were quoted by the Post as saying Orbach would not receive a reserved slot on the Likud electoral list because of his hesitation about leaving the coalition, but that Yamina MK Idit Silman, who made a clean break weeks ago, will.

Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas, whose rebellious party was in no small part responsible for the coalition collapse, called the decision “proper.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said it’s a “shame that the country needs to be dragged to elections.” A source in his Blue and White party told The Times that Gantz did not know about the Bennett-Lapid decision before it was made.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, Yamina’s No. 2, was also kept in the dark, political sources saying that there had been no prior consultation with her.

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