President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday urged the Israeli public not to "sink into despair" and "lose faith" in democracy following a Knesset vote to dissolve itself and call a new snap election, a record third in less than a year.
The Knesset approved a motion to hold an unprecedented third national vote in less than 12 months on March 2, 2020 after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival Benny Gantz failed to parlay the previous two ballots in April and September into a new coalition government. The bill was approved with 94 lawmakers voting in favor to none opposed just hours after the Knesset was officially dissolved at midnight Wednesday as the deadline to form a new government passed.
“After two rounds of elections and as a third campaign about to begin, I believe this is critical moment for the Israeli public, which will decide on who its leaders are," said Rivlin in a statement. "Israeli democracy was and still is a source of pride, and we know that the democratic system comes at a cost," he said.
"I pray that the depth of the current political crisis and the divisions it exposes amongst us will lead us - as a society and as a country - to fight not only for the right to disagree with each other, but also to the duty to find what we can agree about.”
The 80-year-old went on to say that he hopes the upcoming national ballot will be the last one for the next four years. “I hope we will be able to grow as a people and a society from the division and disagreement that separates us to agreement and action that benefits us all.
"We must not allow ourselves to sink into despair or grievance, which does no good. We must not lose faith in the democratic system or in its ability to create the reality we live in with our own hands,” he added. “When the time comes, we will all exercise our democratic right and do it in the hope of a better future, as soon as possible, for us all.”
Israeli law states that should no government be formed within the allotted period after an election, parliament is dissolved with a fresh ballot to take place within 90 days. The date, however, was preempted by a week in order to avoid the elections date clashing with Purim holiday.