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Israel inches closer to elections as Knesset dissolution passes first reading

Bennett’s political career is likely to come to an end – and possibly Mansour Abbas’ as well, according to Israeli affairs expert Issmat Mansour.

Jerusalem24 – A bill to dissolve the Israeli Knesset, leading Yair Lapid to take the place of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett ahead of new elections in fall this year, successfully passed its first reading in the Knesset’s House Committee at midnight last night.

With the collapse of the Bennett-Lapid coalition, Israelis will head to the polls for the fifth time in under four years, sometime between 25 October and 1 November.

The first reading passed unanimously, despite efforts by Nir Orbach – who chairs the Knesset’s House Committee – to delay the vote in an effort to build a new coalition before the Knesset is officially dissolved and new elections are called for.

The final vote confirming the dissolution of the Knesset will take place Wednesday.

Bennett’s surprise announcement last week that he was putting the Knesset dissolution to a vote ended weeks of speculation that a government collapse was imminent.

Israeli affairs analyst Issmat Mansour told 24FM, Jerusalem24’s sister station, that up to a few days before the decision to put the Knesset dissolution to a vote, Bennett was laboring hard to save his coalition – one of the main reasons being, Mansour said, that Bennett did not favor US President Biden’s planned visit to Israel taking place under Lapid’s premiership.

Lapid is a historic proponent of the two-state solution, and Bennett was worried the new prime minister may end up finding common ground on the subject with his US counterpart during the latter’s visit in July.

But even if Bennett stood fast to his most right-wing ideologies, it may not be enough to save his career.

Even as Israeli media is rife with speculation about a possible run for Bennett in the upcoming elections, Mansour believes retirement is the more likely route. Bennett, said Mansour, may have taken “too fast a route” to becoming PM, compromising commitments to his right-wing base in order to form his coalition with Arab parties – a move that his right-wing Yamina party is not likely to forgive.

“It was political suicide,” said Mansour.

At the opposite end of the coalition spectrum, United Arab List leader Mansour Abbas doesn’t fare much better, in Mansour’s opinion. The whole Abbas “experiment” was a failure, said Mansour – first and foremost because of the wide discrepancy between what Abbas was willing to give Bennett and Lapid versus what few achievements Abbas managed to secure for his Arab constituents.

Even for committed supporters of Abbas, the past year has decisively shown he is incapable of tending to even the most basic needs of his constituents.

Mansour said Abbas will likely lose his position as head of the party – and possibly his seat in the elections. Even if he doesn’t lose his position, this experiment of a “partnership” in the government will likely never include him again.

There have already been calls by Palestinian members of Knesset as well as popular leaders for Palestinian citizens of Israel to boycott the next elections.

Both Palestinians and Israelis are now bracing themselves for a possible return to power of Benjamin Netanyahu.

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