Naftali Bennet and Yair Lapid in Jerusalem on Monday. (Getty Images)

Knesset passes vote to dissolve and go to polls

Israel’s parliament is expected to dissolve early Thursday, ending Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s year-long tenure and triggering a fifth election in less than four years that could see Benjamin Netanyahu reclaim power.

Barring an 11th hour shock agreement to save the coalition or form a new government within the existing Knesset, Mr Bennett’s eight-party alliance is due to end by midnight (7am AEST), installing Foreign Minister Yair Lapid as prime minister.

The former television anchor is set to head a caretaker government, ahead of polls due in late October or early November.

Mr Bennett’s alliance formed in 2021 offered a reprieve from an era of gridlock, ending Mr Netanyahu’s record 12 consecutive years in power and passing Israel’s first budget since 2018.

Mr Netanyahu has promised victory in new elections but may again struggle to rally a parliamentary majority, multiple polls have shown. He is on trial over corruption charges, which he denies. The anti-Netanyahu camp will likely be led by the centrist Mr Lapid. Dismissed as a lightweight when he entered politics a decade ago, he has surprised many with his political skills. As he and Mr Bennett announced last week that their coalition was no longer tenable, Mr Lapid sought to cast Mr Netanyahu’s potential return to office as a national threat.

Read the article by Ben Simon in The Australian.