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Israel coalition moves to dissolve parliament, Lapid to become caretaker PM

2022 06 19T084935Z 1500999482 RC2WUU9WCJJC RTRMADP 3 ISRAEL POLITICS

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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Monday they would introduce a bill next week to dissolve the country’s parliament, which, if passed, would lead to new elections with Lapid as interim prime minister.

“After making every effort to stabilize the coalition, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and … (Foreign Minister) Yair Lapid have decided to introduce a bill next week that would dissolve parliament,” the two leading Israeli coalition partners said. in a statement. Lapid and Bennett were due to issue statements at 8pm (1800 GMT)

They also said that if the bill is passed, Lapid will take over as prime minister from an interim government.

Should that happen, it would be Lapid who would receive US President Joe Biden during his planned visit to Israel next month.

The ideologically divided alliance of eight parties was forged a year ago and includes religious nationalists such as Bennett, Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party, left-wing parties and, for the first time in Israeli history, lawmakers from an Arab Islamist party.

But the coalition, cobbled together to end the tenure of divisive leader Benjamin Netanyahu, has been threatened from the start. It lost its majority in the 120-seat Israeli parliament in April when a member of Bennett’s Yamina party announced her departure.

Recent divisions over the extension of a measure allowing Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank to live under Israeli law has caused new friction, with some left-wing parties refusing to support it.

That was anathema to hawks in the alliance, most notably Attorney General Gideon Saar, who rejected any notion that settlers in the West Bank live outside of Israel.

The Netanyahu-led opposition had warned it would introduce its own draft bill on Wednesday to dissolve parliament, but Bennett and Lapid appear to be anticipating that opposition move.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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