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Coalition infighting delays final dissolution of Knesset to Thursday

Lapid expected to take over as prime minister on Friday after Yisrael Beytenu, Labor, Meretz and Joint List file hundreds of objections to Knesset dissolution bill

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid speak ahead of the first reading of a vote to dissolve the Knesset, on June 27, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid speak ahead of the first reading of a vote to dissolve the Knesset, on June 27, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The final votes to dissolve the Knesset and head to a new election were pushed off for yet another day late Wednesday, and are now set to be picked up only Thursday morning.

The votes on the bill were delayed Wednesday after both opposition and coalition parties submitted hundreds of objections to the dissolution process in order to advance legislation before new elections are called.

Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid is now only expected to take over as prime minister early Friday morning, once the legislative process is finalized.

Debate on the second and third readings of the bills to dissolve the Knesset was scheduled to begin late Wednesday afternoon but was held up by objections filed by Yisrael Beytenu, Labor, Meretz and the Joint List in the Knesset House Committee.

Yisrael Beytenu and Labor submitted their objections owing to their insistence that the so-called metro bill to expedite the development of a subway system in Israel’s central district be passed before the Knesset disperses.

And the Joint List filed its objections in order to delay the dissolution of the Knesset until the Judea and Samaria Law expires on Thursday night — which could have severe legal consequences for Israeli settlers living in the West Bank.

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu smiles ahead of a preliminary vote to dissolve the Knesset for new elections, on June 22, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Knesset House Committee rejected Yisrael Beytenu’s objections on Wednesday evening before moving on to reviewing those of Labor.

Lapid will become interim prime minister as soon as the Knesset is dissolved. He and his Yesh Atid party are anxious to finalize the process as quickly as possible to thwart the lingering possibility that opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu could form a new government in the current Knesset.

The imminent dissolution of the Knesset was agreed upon between Lapid and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett earlier this month after coalition MK defections — and threatened defections — undermined the ability of the government to pass legislation and govern effectively.

The elections, should they be called, will be Israel’s fifth in less than four years and will cost an estimated NIS 2.4 billion.

The coalition is seeking to hold the elections on Nov. 1, while the opposition prefers Oct. 25, when ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students will still be on vacation and thus more likely to vote.

The dissolution bill is being advanced with Nov. 1 as the stipulated election date along with an opposition objection seeking Oct. 25. The matter will be decided by a vote in the Knesset plenum when the bill comes for its final readings.

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