Israel’s Gantz to again invoice to dissolve parliament, pressure vote | Center East

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s head of government Benny Gantz said Tuesday his party would vote for an opposition law to dissolve parliament – a move that could force a fourth election in less than two years.

Gantz’s centrist blue and white party is currently the main partner in a precarious coalition led by Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud.

This coalition, which was formed after three hard-fought elections between Netanyahu and Gantz and which did not produce a clear winner, was plagued by fighting and accusations from the start.

Gantz, a former army chief who served as defense minister, said Netanyahu’s refusal to support a budget proposal made it clear that the prime minister wanted Israel to re-elect.

In a televised address he said that blue and white “will vote for the dissolution of the Knesset tomorrow”.

“The only one who can prevent these elections is Netanyahu,” said Gantz. “The burden of proof is on you.”

However, Wednesday’s vote on an opposition-backed measure is preliminary. If successful, at least two more successful Knesset readings are required before a new election can be scheduled.

Just before Gantz spoke, Netanyahu posted a video on Twitter asking Gantz to vote against the measure.

“This is not the time for elections,” said Netanyahu. “Now is the time for unity.”

The Netanyahu-Gantz unity government, agreed in April, was partly aimed at bringing much-needed stability to Israel after the worst political crisis in its history and as the coronavirus pandemic picked up.

Netanyahu was slated to serve as prime minister for the first half of the three-year deal, with Gantz taking over in November 2021.

The deal contained several provisions that would automatically have sparked the collapse of the coalition, including a failure to pass a budget.

Three-month election

Gantz, who accuses Netanyahu of dragging the talks out for personal reasons, apparently doesn’t want to wait that long.

Once the budget is complete, Netanyahu would be forced to sign up to his rotation agreement next year and give Gantz power. But if the government collapses, Netanyahu will remain prime minister for the three-month election campaign and until a new coalition is formed.

Fearing that a new election is inevitable, Gantz seems to have concluded that the vote should best be held as soon as possible, with the corruption process against Netanyahu underway and COVID-19 still out of control.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [File: Tal Shahar via Reuters]Netanyahu has been charged with fraud, breach of trust and taking bribes in a series of scandals in which he is accused of doing a favor to wealthy media representatives in exchange for positive coverage of him and his family.

The trial is expected to be in full swing in February when a number of witnesses are due to testify.

Better chance

Netanyahu, on the other hand, would benefit if budget negotiations were further delayed. This would give more time for the coronavirus vaccine to arrive and the economy to recover over the next year, which would probably give it a better chance in elections.

Opinion polls suggest that Netanyahu’s Likud party will still be the largest party in parliament in the next election, but with far fewer seats than it currently does.

Gantz’s blues and whites have dropped even further, and it’s in their best interest to compromise and avoid new elections.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Yair Lapid, sponsor of the Government Dissolution Act, welcomed Gantz’s speech.

“Six months after this bloated and disconnected government was formed, it is clear to everyone that Netanyahu cannot lead Israel out of the corona crisis,” he said.

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