With Defense Minister Benny Gantz announcing late Tuesday that his Blue & White Party will vote in favor of a bill to disperse the Knesset, the legislation now has enough backers to pass, plunging Israel into its fourth election in less than two years.
The preliminary vote is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon and the Labor party, which is also part of the coalition, had already said they would vote with the opposition to dissolve the parliament, all but assuring its approval. A bill to dissolve the Knesset will require three additional successful readings before new elections must be called.
The coalition agreement between Blue and White and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud stipulates a rotation of the premiership with Gantz due to take over the prime minister's office next November.
It also stipulates that a two-year budget will be approved by the government and legislated by the Knesset without which the parliament would automatically dissolve.
Gantz's announcement, therefore, is seen as an empty threat because the Knesset may automatically dissolve on December 23 if a budget bill is not passed.
Netanyahu has so far refused to comply with the agreement in what has been considered a ploy to upend the deal and prevent Gantz from assuming the top job next year. A dissolution of parliament at the end of the month would facilitate elections in March, considered an advantageous option for Likud.
Although Gantz left an opening the prime minister to avoid the election if he agrees to the two-year budget, it is unlikely that Netanyahu will be willing to compromise, and his allies have already announced the election campaign has begun as they consider optional dates.
Those close to the prime minister said the accusation made by Gantz, leave no recourse but to end the dysfunctional coalition government. Gantz accused Netanyahu of using the pandemic for his own self-glorification and is uniquely concerned with avoiding the ramifications of his corruption.
Netanyahu is on trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Likud is hoping for an election by the end of spring, by which time they hope a vaccine will be available and much of the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic would be on the mend.
Blue & White, however, said elections must be held as soon as possible so that a new coalition would quickly pass a budget for the benefit of the country during a financial and health crisis.
First published: 11:21 , 12.02.20