Bennett Convenes Cabinet Meeting Before Knesset Dissolves

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leads a Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday. (Yoav Dudkevitch/POOL)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett convened what is likely his last Cabinet meeting as premier on Sunday, with parliament expected to dissolve itself this week, triggering new elections in the fall.

The elections, the fifth the country will have held in three years, deepen an unprecedented political crisis in Israel.

At the meeting, Bennett listed a series of accomplishments under his year-old government and thanked his coalition partners.

As part of the power-sharing agreement that brought Bennett to power, he is set to hand over the premiership to Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, once the Knesset is dissolved. Elections are expected around the end of October or beginning of November with polls showing the Likud party is expected to garner the most seats.

But as in most rounds of voting during the current political turmoil, Binyamin Netanyahu has been unable to muster a majority to form a coalition government. That could further extend the crisis after the upcoming vote.

Bennett’s own faction, Yamina, was dogged by defectors, MKs who said the prime minister, a former Yesha council leader, had veered too much toward the center in his bid to keep the coalition intact.

Bennett, who entered politics a decade ago, hasn’t said whether he’ll run in the upcoming elections.

Meanwhile, the Shin Bet is preparing for Lapid’s entry into the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Bennett’s office has prepared a plan for handing over the duties smoothly and in an organized fashion.

If the bill to dissolve the Knesset passes its second and third readings on Monday, the ceremony for changing prime ministers will be held a day or two later.

If Lapid enters the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday, he is expected to hold his first Cabinet meeting that same day.

Lapid has requested to move to the Prime Minister’s Residence on Balfour Street immediately, but the Shin Bet has insisted that the renovations be completed first.

Bennett never moved to the Prime Minister’s Residence, claiming that it needs renovations. These renovations, for unknown reasons, were not completed during the time that passed since the Netanyahu family moved out.

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