Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Israel’s foreign minister agreed to submit a bill to dissolve Parliament, according to an announcement Monday, coming weeks ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit to the country.
Bennett will step aside to be replaced by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Bennett’s partner in the unlikely coalition of opposites that ended former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s record 12-year rule about a year ago, according to a statement from his office. The act will trigger the fifth election in Israel in four years.
Bennett confirmed in that statement that Lapid “will soon take over as prime minister in accordance with an agreement between us.”
“It is not an easy moment but we took the right decision,” Bennett also said.
“We did everything we could to maintain this government. We didn’t leave any rock unturned,” the prime minister said, adding that last week that a law regarding Israeli settlements will expire and will cause “chaos.” He continued, ” We couldn’t let that happen. Therefore we decided to go for election in order to prevent that.”
And Lapid, a former journalist who heads the largest party in the coalition, will serve as interim prime minister until new elections can be held.
“We need to tackle the cost of living, wage the campaign against Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah, and stand against the forces threatening to turn Israel into a non-democratic country,” Lapid said in a statement about his plans while in office.
The collapse of the government comes less than a month before Biden’s visit to Israel, which is planned for July 13. According to the agreement between Bennett and Lapid, once the Knesset is dissolved and an election is called, Lapid will become the acting prime minister.
Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the decision “great news” and added that he wants to form a wide national government following the new elections.
“It is clear to everyone that this government, the biggest failure in the history of Israel, is at the end of its road,” Netanyahu said in a video on Twitter, while adding that the current government depends too much on “terror” supporters. It also “neglected the personal security of citizens of Israel” and “raised the cost of living to new heights,” according to a translation.
Earlier this month, the White House confirmed Biden would visit Israel, the West Bank portion of Israel, and Saudi Arabia in July.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides told the Axios website that “Biden’s trip to Israel will happen as planned” following Monday’s announcement.
Reuters contributed to this report.