נפתלי בנט
נפתלי בנט צילום: חזקי ברוך

Tonight, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett formally announced his intention not to run in the upcoming elections for the 25th Knesset.

Bennett will remain 'alternate prime minister' and in charge of the Iranian issue until the next government is sworn-in following the elections, which are tentatively scheduled for the fall.

The Prime Minister issued a statement from the Knesset stating that he intends to assist Yair Lapid upon taking office as Prime Minister. "I will help him as much as he needs. 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.

"I would like to thank the government ministers. I would especially like to thank my partner, the Interior Minister, Ayelet Shaked, for taking over the party leadership, I am sure she will succeed in leading it for the better.

"I would also like to thank our excellent Religious Affairs Minister, Matan Kahana, for his 32 years of friendship and courage in carrying out reforms and his eternal optimism. I also thank MKs Abir Kara and Shirley Pinto who stood by me even when it was difficult.

"Above all - I thank the Almighty. Even when I walked in the Valley of Death I did not see evil, because the Lord was with me. Friends - for the entire time. Now is my time to get away for a bit. Look at things from the outside. Time will calm everything, I will go my own way. Be well, I have been with you, and I am full of gratitude.

Bennett detailed his government's achievements: "We brought peace to the south, which was not the case for years. We returned hundreds of thousands of unemployed people to work. We avoided lockdowns. We made it clear to our enemy that anyone who sends terrorists to Tel Aviv will pay in his own home. There is one thing I regret - many good Israelis felt in the past year that their world had been destroyed. I heard the voices and it hurt. We need to learn to accept it. Half the people must not be in mourning when a government is formed."

"I aspired as Prime Minister to take care of all Israeli citizens and I am happy to give security and peace to both the residents of Sderot who vote for the right. nd the residents of the envelope who vote left. We have proved this year that people with very different views can work together. It is certainly possible and even necessary to put aside ideological differences. If we become divided - we will cease to be. So let's be good to each other, let's listen," Bennett said.