Stating that his party would vote for “unity” and that elections are “unnecessary,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a preemptive strike in the expected showdown this week over whether the government would vote to disperse and go to new elections.
Netanyahu’s office said hours in advance that the prime minister was going to make a “dramatic and special” announcement on elections Monday afternoon. The announcement — which slightly more than one minute — was anything but dramatic.
But “special”? Maybe.
Ever the strategist, Netanyahu was the first to make a statement on whether to go to elections, putting Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz and his Blue and White party up for blame if they did vote on a measure to disband the government.
The Likud, his party Netanyahu said, would vote to maintain the current unity government.
“Unity so that we can bring vaccines to all Israeli citizens, unity so that we can continue to fight coronavirus, unity so that we can provide more financial assistance to businesses, the self-employed, the public. Unity, so that we can continue to maintain security and unity so that we can sign more peace agreements. We have missions and we need to do them together.”
“The people of Israel deserve a government that will work not for elections and not for politics but for them,” Netanyahu said.
Many believe that Gantz is considering voting with the opposition to disperse the government when opposition leader Yair Lapid puts up his bill on Wednesday.
"In 48 hours, we will bring to an end the worst government in the history of the country,” Lapid said. “I say to Blue and White, what's in the past is in the past. Let's do the right thing, together. It’s time to stop being Netanyahu’s accomplices. You had good intentions, it didn’t work. Now it’s time to make amends.”
Lapid said that if Blue and White will support his bill, “in 48 hours this government will be on its way home and Israel will be on a new path.”
Netanyahu and Gantz agreed, as part of their coalition, that if Netanyahu initiates an election, Gantz would become caretaker prime minister and if Gantz votes for an election then Netanyahu keeps the seat until elections.
It also depends on whether the Knesset passes a budget, another big sticking point. If the budget is not passed by April, Netanyahu stays in power until new elections in June.
Israel has held three elections in just less than two years.
Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS