Monday, May 27, 2019

Israel: New Elections Possible After Knesset Passes First Vote To Dissolve

New elections loom after Knesset passes first vote to dissolve

The Knesset on Monday took a big step toward dissolving the parliament and calling a second national election within months, as last-ditch coalition talks between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman failed to produce a breakthrough.
Parliament was witness to a farcical spectacle on Monday afternoon, as right-wing lawmakers pushed for fresh elections, weeks after triumphantly declaring victory in the April 9 vote; opposition lawmakers defeated in the polls voted to keep the parliament intact; and poker-faced ministers conceded they could not speak in the name of the coalition, which does not exist, as they made their arguments to the plenum in favor of the move.
After a brief debate, 65 lawmakers voted in favor of dissolving the parliament, 43 opposed it and six MKs abstained. The Likud-spearheaded bill — which had to be submitted as a private-member bill, since there is no government — requires three more votes to trigger snap elections, which are proposed to be held on August 27.

Holding two elections at such a short interval would be unprecedented in Israel, and there have been concerns over the cost and prolonged political paralysis that would result.

As lawmakers voted, Netanyahu and Liberman met for talks and the prime minister announced he would be making a prime-time announcement at 8 p.m.
A Likud official later told Hebrew media that the meeting ended without a breakthrough in the talks.
The Knesset vote was widely seen as a pressure tactic to persuade prospective coalition partners to soften their demands, as well as a bid to prevent President Reuven Rivlin from tasking another lawmaker with forming a government should Netanyahu fail to do so by a Wednesday deadline.
Blue and White, which has vowed that it will not join a government led by Netanyahu, is tied with Likud as the largest party in the Knesset. On Monday, its leader, Benny Gantz, said that if Netanyahu cannot form a government, he should be given a chance.

Netanyahu has yet to ink a deal with any of his prospective partners, and progress has stalled amid an impasse between the secular Yisrael Beytenu party and ultra-Orthodox parties on the question of a bill regulating the military draft among the ultra-Orthodox.
Earlier, Liberman, the Yisrael Beytenu leader, said his party will vote in favor of dissolving parliament and calling new elections. Liberman has repeatedly said he backs Netanyahu for prime minister, but will only join the government if there is a commitment to pass, unaltered, a bill regulating the draft of ultra-Orthodox men into the army. The bill is opposed by ultra-Orthodox parties, which want to soften its terms. Netanyahu needs Yisrael Beytenu and both the Knesset’s ultra-Orthodox parties to form a majority government.

The Times of Israel is liveblogging Monday’s events as they unfold.

Netanyahu urges Liberman to reconsider joining government to avert ‘unnecessary’ elections

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is urging Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman to join his governing coalition, and avert costly new elections this summer.
At a Knesset press conference, Netanyahu says he is “doing everything possible to form a right-wing government and prevent unnecessary elections that will cost billions of shekels.”
He says that Liberman is to blame for the deadlocked coalition talks.
“There’s no reason to do so and paralyze the country for another year and a half,” Netanyahu says. “There are excellent solutions, and if there’s the will, it can be solved within two minutes.”
Earlier, the Knesset plenum approved the Likud-drafted bill to dissolve the Knesset in a 65-43 plenum vote. The measure still needs to pass three more readings.

Netanyahu to announce new elections in Knesset address — report

Netanyahu will likely announce that his efforts to form a coalition have failed and that there is no option but to hold new elections in his Knesset address tonight, according to reports in Hebrew-language media.
Earlier, Netanyahu met with Liberman in a last-ditch effort to reach a coalition deal that would prevent Israelis from going to the polls months after the April 9 vote. Reports said the talks were not successful.

Bill to dissolve Knesset passes first plenum vote

The Likud-drafted bill to dissolve the Knesset passes a preliminary reading in a 65-43 plenum vote. Six lawmakers from the Hadash-Ta’al faction abstained.
Netanyahu announced earlier that he will address the Knesset tonight at 8 p.m.

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