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Israel will hold its fifth election in three years after the country’s diverse but fragile ruling coalition collapsed amid internal disputes over the future of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, NPR reported.
The government dissolved after lawmakers from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s nationalist party withdrew their support for the ideologically-mixed coalition that included a secular Jewish party and pro-Palestinian politicians.
The collapse came after the government could not secure enough votes to extend legal protections to Jewish settlers in the West Bank. The provisions provide Jewish settlers rights that Palestinians in the territory do not have, including the entitlement to Israeli health insurance and the right to be tried in Israeli courts.
While the legislation is usually renewed every five years, lawmakers failed to reach a consensus despite pleas by Bennett that the country could face “heavy security damage and constitutional chaos.”
The parliament’s dissolution will allow the protections to be frozen until three months after a new legislature is elected. Meanwhile, Bennett will step down as prime minister with centrist Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to replace him.
The next elections will likely take place in October.
Despite the coalition failure, analysts noted that the inclusion of an Arab Islamist party in the government played “a historical role.” They added that this could later pave the way “for the possibility of more inclusion by the Arab minority in the political process and Israeli society as a whole.”
Meanwhile, questions linger about whether former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will return to power in the snap polls. Netanyahu remained a fierce opponent of Bennett’s coalition and accused the outgoing government of relying on “terror supporters” – a slur aimed at the Arab party.