JERUSALEM ( Associated Press) — Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will not run in the upcoming election, his office announced on Wednesday, as Bennett leads a broad but fragile coalition that fell apart in just over a year.
The government announced last week that it would dissolve the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), but disputes with the opposition have delayed the vote required for dissolution.
Bennett’s office reported that Bennett had informed his Yamina (“right” party in Hebrew) that he would not run in the upcoming election, which could take place in October or November. For now, he will continue as alternate prime minister in the interim government led by the coalition’s architect Yair Lapid, who currently serves as foreign minister.
Bennett’s office announced that he would issue a statement in the next few hours.
Bennett embodies the many contradictions that animate his small country. He is a religious Jew who became a millionaire in the Israeli tech sector, which is made up of mostly secular people. He supports the ghetto in the West Bank but lives in a suburb of Tel Aviv. He is a former ally of Benjamin Netanyahu, who has aligned forces with the left and right parties to end Netanyahu’s 12-year rule.
He was once the leader of the Council of Jewish Settlers and became prime minister of a coalition opposed to a Palestinian state, which included left-wing parties. His government has taken steps to improve economic conditions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but has refused to return to the stalled peace process.
Bennett tried to unite the country after a period of political stalemate, which led to four elections in less than two years, but his own party eventually fell all but its members rebelled against the coalition he had formed. done.
Netanyahu pitted right-wingers against Bennett, accusing him of betraying him by forming alliances with left-wing parties and even an Arab. Bennett’s speeches in the Knesset were interrupted more than once by the shouting and ridicule of Netanyahu’s aides. His family had received death threats.
Many speculated that if the government fell, Bennett would distance himself from politics.
Whether the chaos in Yamina will help Israel remains to be seen. If the party contests the election but fails to gain a parliamentary presence, it would deprive Netanyahu of a potential coalition ally, or Bennett’s successor could become a decisive politician.