Israeli Knesset dissolves, with Lapid to become acting premier
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will become Israel's acting prime minister at midnight local time after lawmakers voted Thursday to call for an early election on Nov. 1 and dissolve the Knesset.
Why it matters: It will be Israel's fifth election within four years.
Driving the news: The vote was initially expected Wednesday. But fighting between the coalition and the opposition continued until the vote was called early Thursday morning.
- Both sides couldn’t agree on the date for the election and eventually two dates — Nov. 1 and Oct. 25 — were put to a vote.
- The opposition refused to agree to a deal with the coalition on passing a series of laws before the Knesset dissolved unless Oct. 25 was chosen. Two of the bills were critical to efforts to get Israel into the U.S. visa waiver program.
- In an unusual move, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, unsuccessfully tried to press opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies to pass the bills.
Behind the scenes: The opposition tried until Wednesday night to find a formula that would have enabled them to form an alternative government without calling an early election.
- That included a proposal in which Defense Minister Benny Gantz would become prime minister. But Gantz turned down the proposal, stressing he has zero confidence and trust in Netanyahu.
State of play: Based on recent polling, Netanyahu’s Likud party is expected to get the highest number of seats in the next Knesset.
- But Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc still won't have the 61 seats needed to form a government.
- Lapid also won't be able to form a government, current polling suggests. The likely scenario at the moment is another election.
The big picture: Outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Wednesday he will not run in the upcoming election.
What's next: Unlike Bennett, Lapid is expected to move from his house in Tel Aviv to an official residence in Jerusalem.
- Lapid will greet President Biden when he arrives in Israel for his visit to the Middle East in July.
Go deeper: Why Israel's government collapsed