Jerusalem (AP) – Less than seven months after approval, the government in Israel is nearing its end. A majority of MPs in parliament voted 61 to 54 in a preliminary vote in Jerusalem on Wednesday for a law to dissolve the Knesset.
Representatives of the Blau-Weiß center alliance of Defense Minister Benny Gantz, which is part of the government, voted with the opposition. This could herald the end of the Blue and White coalition with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing conservative Likud and necessitate fresh elections – amid the corona crisis and new tensions with Iran.
It was only a preliminary vote; The final dissolution of the Knesset would require three more readings of the law initiated by the opposition. There would still be time to resolve internal coalition conflicts, such as the budget dispute. Gantz has said that only budget approval in three readings on Dec. 23 can prevent a new election. The budget must be completed by that day, otherwise the Knesset will be dissolved automatically. A new election would then have to take place 90 days later.
The failure of the coalition, which has only existed since mid-May, would mean Israel’s fourth parliamentary election in two years. In the grand coalition of former rivals Netanyahu and Gantz, there have been many problems from the start and tensions have recently increased.
Gantz announced the voting record of his alliance on Tuesday. He made serious allegations against the head of the government: “Netanyahu wasn’t just lying to me,” Gantz told journalists. “He lied to you.” Netanyahu broke his pledge to approve the budget as agreed. Netanyahu’s only interest is his own political survival. He is doing everything he can to avoid conviction in his corruption trial, Gantz said. Netanyahu recently called for national unity in the corona crisis. According to media reports, he is also considering a new election, but at a later date. Netanyahu was heavily criticized in the course of the corona pandemic.
Opposition leader Jair Lapid blamed the coalition on Wednesday of total failure in the Knesset. “The government has lost control of the pandemic and the country.” The Israeli public has lost faith in them.
The crisis makes the country difficult. Unemployment was sometimes more than 20 percent. The government was charged with errors and negligence requiring a second nationwide lockdown. Netanyahu is also being criticized for the corruption lawsuit against him. Gantz also has submarine purchases monitored, which also put Netanyahu under pressure.
A dispute about the budget has been raging between the coalition partners for months. The coalition agreement states that the cabinet will adopt a budget for 2020 and 2021. Netanyahu had withdrawn this commitment and only wanted a budget for 2020. The head of government himself cited the extraordinary circumstances of the corona crisis as the reason. Critics, however, assumed that he wanted, among other things, to prevent Gantz from taking over from him in the autumn of 2021, as agreed.
According to media reports, Prime Minister Gantz initially did not inform about his attempts at rapprochement with Arab states. Netanyahu is also said to have kept a trip to Saudi Arabia a secret from Gantz.