Blue and White leader Benny Gantz announced tonight that he will vote in favor of the dissolving of the government, nearly ensuring that the country will go to new elections - the fourth in less than two years.
His shock announcement came a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will vote against dissolving the Knesset and called to maintain a unity government. Gantz, who also serves as defense minister - and as part of his coalition deal was to become prime minister next fall - said he can no longer support a government led by Netanyahu.
“I have decided not to let Netanyahu steer this government.”
"I had no illusions about Netanyahu, I knew his record as a serial breaker of promises, but I thought he would rise to the occasion given the scope [of the issue]," Gantz said at a news conference.
Yesterday, Netanyahu took a preemptive strike in the expected showdown this week over whether the government would vote to disperse. He said his party would vote for “unity” and that elections are “unnecessary.”
Gantz said Netanyahu has repeatedly lied.
"Netanyahu promised unity and that there would not be tricks and shticks."
"Netanyahu did not lie to me," he said. "He lied to you. Netanyahu did not mislead me. He misled all citizens of Israel."
“Netanyahu has decided to take apart the government and lead back to elections,” he said.
He accused the prime minister of dragging his feet by not approving a budget.
Gantz left one caveat: If Netanyahu acted immediately to pass a two-year budget, as agreed to in the coalition deal hence ensuring that Gantz would take over as prime minister, he would change his vote tomorrow.
"The election can still be prevented by the person who is causing it," he said directing his statement at the PM. "If you act properly, without political maneuvers, millions of Israelis will not have to go to the polls for a fourth time in March."
A vote on dissolving the Knesset is expected to be take place tomorrow.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.