Prime Minister of Israel Naftali Bennett held a press conference Monday evening that was carried on all of Israel’s broadcast television networks to explain his decision, which was revealed to the public just a few hours earlier, to call for the dissolution of the Knesset and the holding of new elections.
Video starts at 28:09.
Foreign Minister and co-Premiere Yair Lapid, who will, by law enacted as part of the current coalition agreement, automatically become the interim prime minister the moment a vote for dissolution of the Knesset passes stood at Bennett’s side.
Bennett began by explaining his reasons for forming the current government, which was established just one year ago. At the time he was criticized by the right-wing parties in the Knesset for taking his ostensibly right-wing Yamina Party into a coalition government together with the left-wing Labor and Meretz parties. The coalition was also formed with the support of the Arab Ra’am Party.
“I decided to make the difficult and Zionist move,” said Bennett, “and we managed to establish a good government for Israel, we got Israel out of the pit.” This was in reference to the political deadlock that Israel experienced as the country went through 4 elections in just 2 years. And it could also be construed as a dig at opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu whose ouster from power after 13 consecutive years has been regularly cited by the coalition’s leaders as a great success in and of itself.
“Recently we have done everything to preserve this government, we have turned over every stone,” said Bennett on the coalition’s efforts to avoid this move.
The Prime Minister went on to explain that on Friday he held a series of talks with Israeli security and legal officials about the government’s failure to extend the Judea and Samaria regulations, which apply Israeli law to Israeli citizens in Judea and Samaria. This law needs to be renewed from time to time and the Knesset’s recent failure to do just that sparked the current coalition crisis.
Bennet said that after these talks he realized that within ten days of the expiration of the Judea and Samaria laws the State of Israel would “enter into constitutional chaos.”
“I could not allow that,” added Bennett.
As for the transfer of power to Yair Lapid, Bennett pledged that he will, “stand by him and do everything so that he will succeed.”
Yair Lapid then spoke and thanked Bennett, saying Bennett “put the country before the personal interest.”
“Thank you for the friendship, I love you very much. We must not let the forces of darkness dismantle us,” declared Lapid.
While the Foreign Minister will become the premiere should the vote to dissolve the Knesset pass, he will only be the caretaker prime minister and will not have the power to make any new ministerial appointments or take any major steps. Lapid will, however, continue to serve as the prime minister through the new elections and until such time that a new government is formed.
If Israel sees a repeat of the electoral chaos that transpired between 2019 and 2021, Lapid could serve as the caretaker premiere for more than a year as Benjamin Netanyahu did from 2019 to 2020.