Israel's Lawmakers to Vote to Dissolve Knesset After Day-long Delays

A series of recriminations over last-ditch bills, spanning the Tel Aviv light rail and the voter threshold to enter the Knesset, postpones the disbanding of Israel's parliament until Thursday

Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov
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Outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Knesset, on Monday.
Outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Knesset, on Monday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov

Israel's lawmakers will convene to vote on dissolving the Knesset on Thursday morning, after a twilight hour scrap to pass legislation before parliament recesses.

If the vote passes, Lapid will assume the position of prime minister on Thursday at midnight, replacing his coalition partner Naftali Bennett, who on Wednesday evening announced that he would not run in the upcoming election.

>>> PM Bennett announces he won't run in Israel's next election

Outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announces he will not run in the upcoming elections at the Knesset, today.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The vote to dissolve Israel's parliament has been postponed several times after lawmakers from both sides of the aisle submitted thousands of objections to the bill triggering the disbanding of the Knesset.

Earlier in the evening, Labor and Yisrael Beiteinu Knesset members lodged thousands of objections in protest over the failure to advance the so-called Metro Law, which seeks to expedite the construction of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area light rail network.

Likud party offered to lend their support to the bill in exchange for lifting the boycott on renegade lawmaker Amichai Chikli, who is barred from joining up with Benjamin Netanyahu's party in the next election after he defected from Yamina. Members of the coalition, however, rejected the compromise.

Meanwhile, Meretz have submitted objections in protest of the failure to advance a law to lower the vote threshold. The party is currently hovering just above the 3.25 percent quorum, with the most recent Channel 12 News poll giving the left-wing party four seats.

The Arab-majority Joint List party also submitted thousands of objections to the dissolution bill, with the aim of delaying the dispersal of the Knesset until Thursday midnight, when emergency West Bank regulations are due to expire. If the Knesset is not dissolved by then, the regulations – which are extended every five years, apply Israeli law to the settlers, while the Palestinians are subject to military law – will automatically expire.

Moreover, Yamina's Nir Orbach, who chairs the committee which cleared the bill for a vote, was working together with Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party to delay the vote in order to examine the prospect of forming an alternative coalition within the Knesset. The Knesset House Committee must first vote against all of the objections and approve the bill ahead of the second and third readings.

Following the Knesset's dissolution, the role of prime minister will automatically be transferred to current foreign minister, Yair Lapid, who will also keep his portfolio as foreign minister. The caretaker government he'll lead will have limited powers through the next election.

The forthcoming election campaign has already become dominated by the prospect of a possible comeback by Netanyahu, who hopes to win a sixth term in office despite being on trial for corruption on charges he denies. Surveys have shown his right-wing Likud party leading the polls, but still short of a governing majority despite support of allied religious and nationalist parties.

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