Prime Minister Naftali Bennet has informed the members of his Yamina party that he does not intend to run in the upcoming elections in the fall.
Bennett will stay on as alternate prime minister after Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid becomes interim prime minister after the dispersion of the Knesset is finalized.
"I will help him as much as he needs," Bennett said of Lapid in an official statement Wednesday evening. "His success is the success of the state. The good of the state is paramount in my eyes. That's the way it has been and will continue to be."
"I do not intend to run in the upcoming elections, but I will remain a loyal soldier of this country. The State of Israel is the love of my life. To serve this country is my mission," he said.
Bennett thanked his political partners who he said "stood by my side even when it was difficult," and announced that Minister Ayelet Shaked would take over the leadership of the Yamina party.
There have been several reports that Bennett was considering retiring or taking a break from politics following the collapse of the current coalition in light of the failure to renew the Judea and Samaria regulations.
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaed has reportedly attempted to convince Bennett to run in the upcoming elections. However, following recent polls showing a drop in support for the Yamina party Bennett has come to believe that the party was not guaranteed to pass the electoral threshold.
Shaked will become the new leader of Yamina, a development which may lead Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana to decide not to run with the party as well.
Kahana, like Bennett, opposes sitting in a narrow right-wing government and claims that Israel needs a unity government that includes elements from the right and the left, without the political extremes. Kahana refuses to sit in the government under Netanyahu - unlike Shaked, who is willing to form a government with the Likud and Netanyahu.