Jun 29, 2022 - World

Outgoing Israeli PM Naftali Bennett won't run in upcoming election

Naftali Bennett

Naftali Bennett. Photo: Kobi Wolf/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has decided not to run in the upcoming election, his office said on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Bennett's announcement comes as the Israeli Knesset is set to vote on calling an early election.

  • Once an election is called, Bennett will be replaced by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. Bennett will stay on as the alternate prime minister until the elections.

State of play: It's unlikely that the vote on calling an election, which was expected Wednesday, will take place before midnight local time. That means Lapid won't become prime minister until midnight Thursday at the earliest.

Behind the scenes: Bennett in recent days had been giving mixed signals about his political intentions and was under pressure from many of his supporters to stay in the race with his current party Yemina.

What he's saying: "I will continue assisting Yair Lapid as much as needed. I only care about what's good for the country," Bennett said Wednesday.

  • He added that it is time for him to take some distance from politics.
  • He said he will turn over the leadership of the party to his deputy, Ayelet Shaked.

What to watch: Shaked, a conservative right-wing politician, will have to rebuild the party and decide on its direction in the upcoming elections. 

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

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