On Wednesday Israel’s Parliament (the Knesset) voted in favour of a preliminary bill to dissolve itself following budget delays, moving the country towards its fourth election in two years.
The Knesset voted in favour of dissolvement following the defence minister Benny Gantz accusing current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of deliberately delaying decisions on the national budget to remain in power.
Mr Gantz of the centrist Blue and White Party and Mr Netanyahu of the right wing Likud party formed a coalition government in April, with the terms of the power-sharing agreement dictating that Mr Netanyahu is to serve 18 months as Prime Minister before power is transferred to Mr Gantz. A Loophole, which Mr Netanyahu has been accused of exploiting, would prevent this transfer of power if the government collapses due to a budget impasse, allowing Mr Netanyahu to remain in power.
Mr Gantz’s Blue and White Party supported the motion to dissolve parliament, which won 61 to 54 votes, with a total of 5 lawmakers absent. In a televised speech Mr Gantz described the delay on agreeing the budget as an “economic terror attack.” Mr Gantz affirmed on Tuesday prior to the vote that dissolvement could be avoided if Mr Netanyahu is able to swiftly pass the 2020-21 economic budget. The official deadline for the budget is the 23rd of December, but Mr Netanyahu has claimed it can not be passed before February. The Prime Minister did say in a statement, however, he will do “all I can so that the country will have a budget and so that I can continue to serve it.” Israel is currently continuing to follow the budget for 2019 which was passed in the Knesset in 2018.
Following the preliminary vote on Wednesday, the dissolvement bill will be passed to a Knesset committee for further debate before a second and third reading. Once the bill has successfully passed the third reading the Knesset will dissolve and a new election will be held, this is likely to occur between March and June of next year.
Benjamin Netanyahu has been on trial in Jerusalem since May 2020 on charges of corruption. The Prime Minister has denied all accusations of fraud.