Israel dissolves parliaments; push country towards 4th elections in two yrs
Israeli lawmakers on Wednesday passed a preliminary vote to dissolve parliament, pushing the country close to its fourth general elections in less than two years and almost bringing to an end an uneasy alliance.
The proposal put forward by the Opposition to dissolve the Knesset (Israeli parliament) was passed by a 61-54 vote in the house of 120.
The proposal will now go to the Legislative Committee for discussion.
The vote comes a day after Alternate Prime Minister and Defence Minister Benny Gantz said that his Kahol and Lavan (Blue & White) party will vote in favour of the bill accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of consistently “misleading” the public over the budget issue to serve his own political ends.
A bill to dissolve the Knesset will require three additional successful readings before new elections are called.
In a surprise development, lawmaker Mansour Abbas’ Ra’am party, which is a part of the Joint Arab List, skipped the vote.
Mansour has in the past weeks stirred a controversy in the Joint List by saying that he will not rule out a partnership with Netanyahu if the latter commits to meeting the pressing needs of Arab communities in Israel.
In a last ditch attempt to avoid polls, Gantz again extended a lifeline to Netanyahu urging him to approve a two-year budget as was agreed upon in the coalition deal in order to avoid another election.
“If Netanyahu approves the budget, everything will work out,” he said, adding, “anything that prevents elections is a welcome thing. The best solution is for this budget to be passed and for this government to continue to function.”
The Blue & White party has been accusing Netanyahu of breaking coalition agreement to safeguard his own interests. Party members have recently accused the Premier of never having the intent to honour the rotation agreement according to which Gantz was to take over as the Prime Minister after 18 months in November 20201.
The ruling Likud party in turn attacked the Blue & White party and the Opposition for voting in favour of the dissolution and imposing an “unnecessary election” on the country.
“The only common denominator between opposition parties and Kahol Lavan is their aspiration to hurt Netanyahu’s tenure,” coalition whip Miki Zohar of the Likud party said, adding that the anti-Netanyahu camp has “no achievements and no ideology”.
The unity government has spared over the structure of the 2021 budget with Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition partners willing to vote only for a very short term version of the budget, contrary to the coalition agreement.
This has led to Gantz and his party to question the ‘true intent’ of Netanyahu making them feel that he would bring down the government when he has to demit office or a little earlier than that.
If the long-term budget is passed, Netanyahu would be forced to commit to the rotation agreement next year and yield power to Gantz.
If the government collapses, Netanyahu would remain as Prime Minister throughout the three-month election campaign and until a new coalition is formed.
Some analysts say that Netanyahu is also hoping for a change in the circumstances when he can call elections that he can win and form a government that would provide him immunity in a series of corruption cases against him.
Opinion polls predict that Netanyahu’s Likud Party would still emerge as the largest party in the Knesset in the next election, but with far fewer seats than it currently has.
Gantz’s Blue and White party has plummeted even further in the opinion polls, making it in its interests to compromise and avoid a new election, but desperately needs a political face saving gesture that Netanyahu has avoided extending so far.
A Netanyahu-led unity government was formed in May this year with 36 ministers and 16 deputy ministers, the largest in the country’s history, following three inconclusive elections.
Netanyahu’s Likud and Gantz’s Blue & White-led coalition has always looked shaky with the two leaders constantly at loggerheads on policy issues as well as suspecting each other’s “true intentions”.
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