The Israeli government has collapsed, sparking fresh elections and a possible return to power for Benjamin Netanyahu.
After weeks of speculation, the current Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced the government would submit a bill to dissolve the Knesset next week, thereby ending Israel’s 36th government, assuming it passes.
Mr Bennett’s coalition partner, the current foreign minister Yair Lapid, will assume the role of acting prime minister for a minimum of 90 days.
Factoring in religious holidays, elections are likely to be held sometime in October, the fifth in three years.
The current coalition, barely a year old, had been teetering for weeks after it lost its Knesset majority following defections.
It took power in June 2021, bringing an end to Mr Netanyahu’s 12 years in power.
It had gradually been losing authority and a vote of no confidence, tabled by opposition parties, was expected this week, prompting Mr Bennett and Mr Lapid to jump before they were pushed.
Mr Lapid, as acting PM, will now welcome US President Joe Biden to Israel when he visits next month.
Mr Netanyahu, who has twice been Israeli prime minister, has recently been embroiled in a court case defending allegations of corruption but remains a powerful figure in Israel in politics.
Although Israel remains bitterly split politically, Mr Netanyahu is still popular amongst a significant section of the population, but he has struggled in the past elections to form decisive coalitions.
He has spent much of his year in opposition actively undermining the coalition government and encouraging opposition parties to vote against government bills, culminating in the defeat of a bill earlier in the month, restoring certain rights to Israeli settlers in the West Bank.
Voting against the renewal of that legislation went against Mr Netanyahu’s politics and was seen to be brazenly opportunist – it also alienated some of his support.
However, the Bibi-factor will almost certainly dominate the election campaign, and what he says and does will determine much of the course of the coming months as Israel prepares to go to the polls again.