How do Israeli Prime Minister elections take place?
- If the bill is approved, Lapid will take over as premier of a caretaker government
- The ideologically divided eight-party alliance was forged one year ago
- It lost its majority in Israel's 120-seat parliament in April
The President of Israel, whose post is largely ceremonial, has one very important political function. It is his job to select one of the elected candidates to form a new government that can command at least 61 of the Knesset's 120 seats. If that candidate succeeds, he or she becomes the Prime Minister.
With so many political parties in Israel, rarely does any one party win a majority of seats on its own. And even when a party wins the most votes by a clear margin, it may have more difficulty finding coalition partners than a smaller party with more allies.
With this, the president generally invites each party leader to present his or her preferred choice for prime minister and then makes his decision.
Traditionally the president has tapped the leader of the largest party, but on several occasions he has tapped a leader seen as having more coalition partners. He can also suggest forming a unity government, though the parties can decline to comply.
What's the timeframe for forming a coalition?
The candidate tapped by the president to be the next prime minister has 28 days to form a majority coalition. The President can extend that deadline by 14 days if necessary.
If the first candidate falls, the President can tap someone else, who will have 28 days with no extension.
On Monday, the leaders of Israel's governing coalition said they will submit a bill next week to dissolve parliament, legislation that would force new elections if approved.
In a statement, two leading coalition partners said, "After exhausting all efforts to stabilise the coalition, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and... (Foreign Minister) Yair Lapid has decided to submit a bill."
They also said that if the bill is approved, Lapid will take over as premier of a caretaker government.
The ideologically divided eight-party alliance was forged one year ago and includes religious nationalists, like Bennett, Lapid's centrist Yesh Atid party, left-wingers and, for the first time in Israeli history, lawmakers from an Arab Islamist party.
On Wednesday, the Netanyahu-led opposition had warned it would submit its own bill to dissolve parliament but Bennett and Lapid appear to have moved to pre-empt that opposition move.