Israel Edges Closer to Elections as Knesset Advances Bill to Disband

This combination of pictures created on April 02, 2019 shows (L) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to journalists in Jerusalem on February 3, 2019 and former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz delivering his first electoral speech in Tel Aviv on January 29, 2019
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The Israeli Knesset on Wednesday passed a bill to dissolve itself, paving the way for the fourth round of national elections in two years.

Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz broke away from the coalition and voted in favor of the bill proposed by the opposition.

The bills, which still needs to pass in the plenum and the Knesset House Committee in order to become law, passed by a vote of 61 to 54.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Gantz joined forces in a unity government earlier this year in what the latter said was necessary to get through the pandemic. Gantz was set to become prime minister in November 2021 as part of a rotation deal.

However, an impasse regarding the passage of the 2020-2021 government budget has sparked a coalition crisis.

Gantz slammed Netanyahu for “dragging” Israel to more elections by failing to approve the budget.

“Netanyahu likes to compare us to the enlightened of the world. Show me another country where the prime minister prevents the approval of a budget,” he said, calling it an “economic terror attack.”

Coalition whip Miki Zohar from the Likud party also accused Gantz’s Blue and White party of “dragging” Israelis to another election.

“The only thing in common between the parties that make up the opposition and Blue and White is their ambition to harm Netanyahu’s tenure,” he wrote on Twitter.

“This is a sad moment for the Israeli people.”

The bill needs to pass three votes respectively at the plenum and Knesset. If it doesn’t, the government has until December 23 to pass the budget and failure to do so will mean the government’s automatic collapse and new elections in March.

 

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