Israel’s Bennett says won’t run in next election, Lapid poised to be PM

Thursday, Jun 30, 2022

OCCUPIED-AL-QUDS: Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Wednesday that he would not stand in upcoming elections, hours before parliament was set to dissolve, triggering the country’s fifth vote in less than four years.

The premier, who announced last week that his eight-party alliance which took office was no longer tenable, is due to hand power at midnight to Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who will lead a caretaker government into polls expected as soon as late October.

"In a short while I’ll end my time as prime minister of Israel," said Bennett, who will stay on as alternate premier in the interim government. "I won’t run in the next elections," added Bennett, whose religious nationalist Yamina party faces grim polling numbers.

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged that his alliance of right-wingers, ultra-nationalists and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties will win the upcoming vote, but polls show that he may also struggle rally a parliamentary majority. Bennett’s motley alliance formed in June 2021 offered a reprieve from an unprecedented era of political gridlock, ending Netanyahu’s record 12 consecutive years in power and passing Israel’s first state budget since 2018.

The anti-Netanyahu camp in forthcoming polls will likely be led by Lapid, a centrist former television anchor who has surprised many since being dismissed as a lightweight when he entered politics a decade ago.