Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has floated the idea of taking a break from political life and not running in the next election, according to Israeli television reports Wednesday.
Kan public broadcaster reported that Bennett put forward the idea at a meeting with fellow members of his Yamina party, but said he has not made a final decision yet.
The Prime Minister has not raised the matter publicly.
Yamina MKs reportedly urged Bennett to make a quick decision and tie their fate to his own. According to the Kan report, they’re also likely to resign if Bennett does.
the Knesset approved a preliminary reading of a bill on Wednesday to dissolve itself. Once it has cleared the necessary legal hurdles, Israel will go into its fifth election since 2019 and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will become the interim prime minister until a new government is formed. Bennett would then replace Lapid as deputy prime minister.
Opinion polls broadcast on TV channels on Tuesday showed Bennett’s Yamina would win just four to five seats, compared to the party’s seven in the 2021 elections, which could play a role in encouraging the outgoing prime minister to hand over the reins of his party .
Meanwhile, Channel 13 reported on Wednesday that before Bennett decided the prospect of bailing out the coalition was over, his proxies offered to appoint Yamina rebel Nir Orbach to a position of power of his choosing in exchange for resigning from the Knesset.
Orbach would receive the chair of Mifal HaPais, Israel’s national lottery, or director-general of Keren Hayesod, the country’s official fundraising agency.
Orbach apparently rejected the proposal, citing his personal values.
Yamina’s lawmaker recently dropped support for the government, citing the refusal of coalition MKs that refused to support crucial legislation that would apply Israeli law to Israeli citizens living in the West Bank; the decision left the government with a parliamentary minority.
Bennett was first elected to the Knesset after leading the Jewish Home party to 12 seats in the 2013 elections. He then served as a minister in Netanyahu-led governments.
In the April 2019 elections, his New Right party failed to pass the electoral threshold, but was given a second chance when a new round of elections was held in September of that year, retaking a Knesset seat as part of the Yamina faction.
After the 2021 elections, Bennett broke with his longtime ally Netanyahu and formed a historic, diverse unity government, with himself as prime minister. The coalition collapsed under the weight of the renegades of recent months, many from its own party, as a result of ideological divisions with coalition partners.
New elections are likely to take place in late October or early November, after the Jewish High Holidays.