Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

Bennett: Decision to go to elections was the right one for Israel

PM says dissolving Knesset meant to avoid throwing country into disarray after government failed to pass settler bill; Lapid to take over as interim PM, says would not wait for polls to begin tackling challenges country faces

Moran Azulay |
Published: 06.20.22, 21:40
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Monday evening that he had made the right decision for Israel by moving to dissolve the Knesset, thereby triggering a fresh round of elections.
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  • Flanked by co-head of the coalition Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Bennett said in a televised statement that his decision to call for another election, Israel's fifth in just three years, came as a last-ditch attempt to extend emergency regulations that provide legal protections to Jewish West Bank settlers after he had failed repeatedly to muster a majority in the Knesset for the move.
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    נפתלי בנט  בהצהרות לתקשורת
    נפתלי בנט  בהצהרות לתקשורת
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    "Last Friday, I held a series of talks with security officials and realized that within ten days, the State of Israel would come to a standstill," he said.
    "Unfortunately, our efforts did not bear fruit, so my friend Yair Lapid and I decided to hold elections at an orderly time."
    Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War but has never officially annexed the territory. Emergency regulations in place for decades apply parts of Israeli law to Jewish settlers in the West Bank.
    If they are not renewed, that legal system will be thrown into question. It could also change the legal status of the 500,000 settlers living there.
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    The West Bank settlement of Efrat
    The West Bank settlement of Efrat
    The West Bank settlement of Efrat
    (Photo: Reuters)
    The dissolution of the Knesset will automatically extend these regulations by at least several more months.
    "I could not agree to harm Israel's security. We decided to take responsibility and the State of Israel won't be harmed one bit," Bennett continued.
    The coalition will introduce a bill to dissolve the Knesset next week, after which Bennett will step down as prime minister. He will be replaced by Lapid as interim prime minister until a new government is formed as part of a power-sharing deal between the two.
    Bennett vowed to "stand by [Lapid's] side and help him with whatever he needs."
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    נפתלי בנט ויאיר לפיד בהצהרות לתקשורת
    נפתלי בנט ויאיר לפיד בהצהרות לתקשורת
    Foreign Minister Yair Lapid
    (Photo: Alex Gamburg)
    Lapid then took the rostrum and said that he would not wait for new elections to begin tackling the challenges the country faced once he takes over as interim prime minister.
    "Even if we go to the polls in a few months, our challenges as a country cannot wait. We need to tackle the cost of living, wage the campaign against Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah, and stand against the forces threatening to turn Israel into a non-democratic country," he said.
    "What has happened in recent days, what is happening here tonight, is further proof that the Israeli system needs a profound change and a major course correction. A year ago, we started this change, we are continuing it now, and we are continuing together."

    Nina Fox contributed to this story.
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