The Israeli opposition hailed Monday's decision to vote to dissolve the Knesset and hold a fifth general election in three and a half years, with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledging to establish "a broad, strong, and stable national government…that would bring back national pride."
In a jubilant video released on social media, Netanyahu said "It is clear to everyone that this government, the biggest failure in the history of Israel, is at the end of its road … a government dependent on supporters of terror, that neglected the personal security of citizens of Israel, and that raised the cost of living to new heights," the ex-PM said.
The former prime minister added that he would not form a government with United Arab List chairman Mansour Abbas.
"I will not sit [in a government] with Mansour Abbas, and I did not sit with Mansour Abbas," Netanyahu said.
In stark contrast, in the corridors of Israel's parliament, the predominant feeling among members of the coalition was bewilderment. Many lawmakers were not informed in advance of the decision, made after a meeting between Bennett and Lapid, and were left to hear it from the media.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz was the first to respond publicly, stating that he believes "the government has done a very good job" and that "it is a shame that the country must be dragged to elections."
Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar also responded to the announcement: "As I've warned – the irresponsibility of certain coalition lawmakers has brought about the inevitable. The goal in the coming election is clear: preventing Netanyahu's return to power and enslaving the state to his interests."
Mansour Abbas of the United Arab List, who led the historic process of becoming the first Arab party to join an Israeli coalition, doubled down in an interview with Channel 12 News.
"We've only just begun," Abbas said, "We also want partners and influence in the next coalition. Whoever wants to join this new approach of the United Arab List is welcome, and whoever wants to play a game of chairs – we're not with you. The Arab public wants influence."
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“This government succeeded above and beyond,” said Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, who heads Meretz. “This is a historic government that saved Israeli democracy. I’m proud of our part in it. We made an enormous effort to preserve it; its achievements will be remembered for many years. Meretz will continue to work on Israelis’ behalf and will fight for our values in the coming election.”
MK Yair Golan, also of Meretz, said, “The die has been cast – elections. And the goal is clear – to save Israel from corruption and Kahanism.”
Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev posted on social media that "This past year, since the establishment of the 'change government,' there has been a year in which we have done great things for the State of Israel."
"This government," he continued, "which has unified all of the political spectrum – has put the bests interest of the citizens of Israel, their well-being and security, at the top of its agenda, and has made great changes that will affect all of us."
On the part of the opposition, Bezalel Smortich, chairman of the Religious Zionism party, said, “The nation of Israel lives! No more division and no more incitement. Soon, with God’s help, Jewish unity, Zionism and true patriotism will lead Israel.”
Chairman of Likud, lawmaker Yair Levin, also said that "One year ago, I was assigned the most important task: To save the State of Israel from a bad government," which he says resulted in a dramatic increase in the cost of living, and damaged the personal sense of security of each and every one of Israel's citizens."
"It's been quite a year, it was a hard fight," Levin continued, "Our mission now is clear: Bring all that power and all that determination to the upcoming campaign, to ensure that we quickly establish a national government under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, which is committed to Jewish values."